Brussels -- A global customs enforcement operation initiated by the World Customs Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and code-named "Sky-hole Patching II"has led to the confiscation of more than 7500 cylinders of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) and other ozone-depleting substances.
This adds up to over 108 tonnes of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and 668 pieces of equipment containing ODS, said UNEP, in an 11 Nov statement.
Each of these chemicals is linked to the rapid depletion of the ozone layer and all have been either banned or subject to strict controls under the terms of the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer.
"This global operation by Customs in partnership with the WCO and UNEP which hauled in spectacular quantities of illegal ODS clearly demonstrates the success of this tripartite alliance against this dangerous trade and the organised criminal gangs who profit from it," said Kunio Mikuriya, secretary general of the WCO. "We cannot allow goods that threaten the health and safety of world citizens, which contribute to global warming and inevitably to negative climate change, and which damage the environment - perhaps more far-reaching than what is estimated - to circulate the globe without taking serious action," Mikuriya added.
"Illegal trade in ODS poses a threat to the successful recovery of the protective ozone layer as well as to the climate system, since most of the smuggled chemicals are also powerful greenhouse gases," commented Rajendra Shende, head of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) OzonAction Branch. "In the 2000s, illegal trade in ODS was reported to have been worth around $60 million -- equivalent to 10-20 percent of global legitimate trade," he added.