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An explosion in demand for air-conditioning units in Asia ― particularly in India and southern China ― could be slowing the healing of the ozone layer.

Most air-conditioning systems in India and China use the cheap refrigerant HCFC-22, which is banned in Europe and will soon be in the United States. But developing countries are allowed to use it until 2040.

With higher living standards throughout India and China, more people are able to purchase air-conditioning units, resulting in rising HCFC-22 emissions. Developing countries release 20–35 per cent more of the chemical each year.

Now scientists are worried about how this is damaging the ozone layer, reports Keith Bradsher.

Four months ago scientists discovered that the 'hole' created by the ozone-damaging gases — such as chlorofluorocarbons — has expanded again, back to its record size of 2001.

China is planning to halt the production and use of the more damaging chlorofluorocarbons by July of this year, but the developing world needs more incentives to voluntarily start phasing out the use of HCFC-22, say scientists.

Link to full article in the International Herald Tribune

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