Environmental regulation that provides an improved framework for managing halocarbons
April 16, 2020 marked the adoption of the Regulation Amending the Regulation respecting halocarbons . The reinforced regulation aims to reduce the release of halocarbons into the air in order to protect the ozone layer and minimize the growth of the greenhouse effect.
Halocarbons are man-made synthetic halogenated compounds not found in nature. They include the following ozone-depleting substances:
They also include the following replacement products:
The environmental issues at stake
Halocarbons mainly contribute to depletion of the ozone layer and climate change.
Ozone-depleting products are relatively stable, enabling them to migrate up to the stratosphere. The chlorine and bromine they contain react photochemically with stratospheric ozone and compromise the latter’s regeneration. Ozone-depleting products are among the highest in their capacity to retain heat–thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main greenhouse gas (GHG). In addition, ozone-depleting products have very long life spans. Emitting them amplifies the natural greenhouse effect and, as such, they are a major source of climate change. As an example, the emission of one tonne of ozone-depleting products across the world could equate (depending on their type) to 1,000 tonnes or more of CO2. Ozone-depleting products therefore greatly affect atmospheric temperature, the rain cycle in some areas of the planet, as well as ocean currents. In particular, they impair crop growth.
Replacements for ozone-depleting products like HFCs and PFCs have no effect on the ozone layer. However, they are greenhouse gases and some have a very high potential for global warming. This is why both are targeted in the Kyoto Protocol. The following table illustrates the ozone-depleting and global warming potentials of the most common halocarbons in use. The Regulation includes a non-exhaustive list.
Ozone-depleting and global warming potential of the principal halocarbons
(1) Compared to CFC-11, whose potential is defined as 1
Halocarbons are mainly used in the following sectors:
The measures set out in the Regulation respecting halocarbons mainly target the first three of the above sectors.
The principal halocarbon regulatory framework measures
Taken together, the provisions of the Regulation respecting halocarbons enable improved halocarbon management in Québec. Specifically, the Regulation:
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