Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS)

CCP-Approved methodologies include ODS. What are they and why is it important to tackle them?

What’s the challenge?

Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS), including hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), along with other potent non-CO2 climate pollutants like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), pose a severe threat to our planet’s climate.

These substances are not only destructive to the ozone layer, which shields the Earth from much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, but are also high Global Warming Potential (GWP) pollutants. For example, HCFC-22, which is often used in air conditioning, has a heat-trapping potential up to 5,000 times greater than CO2, making it significantly more harmful to the environment.

These chemicals have been widely used in refrigeration, aerosols, and insulation. This has caused significant environmental damage, leading to strict phase-out measures under international agreements like the Montreal Protocol.

Illustration: Understanding Ozone Depleting Substances: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Addressing ODS effectively requires understanding their impact through the lens of GWP. This helps us compare the effects of different greenhouse gases relative to CO2 over a specific time frame, typically 100 years.

While ODS like HCFCs and CFCs are already being phased out in many countries, large quantities are still found in old equipment and products. These can potentially escape untreated into the atmosphere during use and end-of-life phase, if not properly managed.

Carbon credit methodologies have been developed to reward the destruction of these gases, effectively preventing their release into the atmosphere. For example, eliminating 1 tonne of ODS could be equivalent to removing several thousand tonnes of CO2.

Destroying ODS has many benefits. It not only protects the ozone layer, but also helps tackle the climate crisis by stopping the release of these powerful heat-trapping gases. Additionally, it improves air quality and human health by reducing harmful chemicals in the atmosphere.

Transitioning away from ODS and high-GWP substances also speeds up the adoption of environmentally friendlier alternatives, like natural refrigerants and advanced insulation materials, which are crucial for reducing future greenhouse gas emissions.

Ecosystems and biodiversity also stand to gain from the reduced environmental impact of these harmful substances. The financial incentives provided by carbon credits play a crucial role, making it economically viable to destroy ODS and invest in sustainable technologies.

As the carbon market matures, these credits enhance the financial feasibility of projects aimed at reducing high GWP emissions, enabling a quicker shift to low-GWP alternatives and supporting broader environmental and public health goals.

A full list of approved ODS methodologies, along with those still in assessment, can be found in our assessment status table.

As of January 2024, ODS credits represent ca. 0.9% (or about 16 million credits) of total credits issued in the voluntary carbon market. Of this, an estimated 4 million issued credits are affected by a decision for CCP approval to date.

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Learn about the other part of the ICVCM’s two tick process – the assessment of categories of carbon credits.