Environmental context Carbon tetrachloride in the background atmosphere is a significant environmental concern, responsible for ~10% of observed stratospheric ozone depletion. Atmospheric concentrations of CCl4 are higher than expected from currently identified emission sources: largely residual emissions from production, transport and use. Additional sources are required to balance the expected atmospheric destruction of CCl4 and may contribute to a slower-than-expected recovery of the Antarctic ozone ‘hole’. Abstract Global (1978–2012) and Australian (1996–2011) carbon tetrachloride emissions are estimated from atmospheric observations of CCl4 using data from the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) global network, in particular from Cape Grim, Tasmania. Global and Australian emissions are in decline in response to Montreal Protocol restrictions on CCl4 production and consumption for dispersive uses in the developed and developing world. However, atmospheric data-derived emissions are significantly larger than ‘bottom-up’ estimates from direct and indirect CCl4 production, CCl4 transportation and use. Australian CCl4 emissions are not a result of these sources, and the identification of the origin of Australian emissions may provide a clue to the origin of some of these ‘missing’ global sources.