David Biello, writing for Scientific American:
Here’s the scam. A Chinese company manufactures hydrofluorocarbons, the refrigerant gases responsible for the ozone hole and climate change. The gases can efficiently be turned into cash, either by using them in products like refrigerators or air conditioners or, more lucratively, by destroying them. In the early part of the last decade, Chinese manufacturers of HFCs made more and more of them—more than necessary for use even in the rapidly growing Communist country—because the international market for buying and selling the right to pollute with greenhouse gases awarded credits for their destruction. The gas could be made more cheaply—and then destroyed—than the carbon credits that resulted from their destruction were worth. All told, Chinese manufacturers netted billions of dollars in profits from an international effort meant to pay for developing countries to reduce pollution via projects such as preventing forests from being cut down or building more expensive renewable energy projects.
So when the Chinese agree to phase out HFCs, as their President Xi Jinping apparently did with U.S. President Barack Obama, they should be applauded—and shamed. Such cons are the most insidious reason why the world is not on track to restrain global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius, and could see average temperatures more than 5 degrees C higher if more efforts are not made.