LONDON: European efforts to ban the use of HFCs, a type of super greenhouse gas, are under serious threat as multinational equipment and chemical producers unleash a ferocious counter-lobby aimed at preventing meaningful action and maintaining business as usual.
Proposals leaked last month revealed that the European Commission intended to propose banning the use of HFCs in commercial and industrial refrigeration, but insiders now contend that these bans are in danger of being swept aside for a softer phase-down approach which will allow companies to continue selling equipment containing HFCs long after they are needed.
Now, a coalition of NGOs is calling on the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, to stand firm against the corporate self-interest that is seeking to undermine the proposed legislation.
The request comes in a recent letter in which a group of leading European NGOs makes it clear that the use of HFCs – potent climate-changing chemicals many hundreds or thousands of times more powerful that carbon dioxide – must be banned in commercial refrigeration and other sectors as part of the review. Bans are seen by NGOs as essential implementation tools for an effective phase-down as they are the only fail safe way of ensuring the transition to available low-GWP technologies and sending a clear market signal to the industries involved.
“It is absolutely essential that the European Commission stands up to big business and does what it knows is necessary to get rid of these harmful chemicals. That means bans. Anything less is quite simply not good enough,” said EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry.
“Ask yourself why is the HFC industry is favour of a phase-down but not bans? It is because those involved in producing these chemicals understand that bans are the most effective way to reduce HFC use.”
A report produced for the European Commission as part of the review process showed how HFCs in new equipment could be banned in a range of sectors from 2020, including commercial refrigeration, with no loss of energy efficiency or technical barriers.
“We know from the Commission’s own data that we can ban HFCs in new refrigeration equipment from 2020 and that bans have by far been the most successful measure in the existing Regulation. At the end of the day, this is about some of the world’s largest companies trying to protect their market share and continue profiting from potent greenhouse gases,” said EIA Campaigner Alasdair Cameron.
“Under the terms of the original F-Gas Regulation, the Commission has a duty to look at extending bans on the use of these chemicals into new areas where safe, energy-efficient and cost-effective alternatives are available. Its own data says that this is the case for commercial refrigeration and an unparalleled body of real life evidence supports this. Failure to include an HFC ban in this sector would be nothing less than bowing to unscrupulous corporate pressure.”
1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK-based Non Governmental Organisation and charitable trust (registered charity number 1145359) that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals.
2. Read and download the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) report Climate bombs called HFCs: How the industry lobby is trying to block a phase-out of super greenhouse gases in Europe’s refrigeration and air conditioning systems http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/publications/HFC_report_12092012.pdf (PDF).
3. Read and download EIA’s report Chilling Facts IV: HFC-Free Cooling Goes Mainstream http://www.eia-international.org/chilling-facts-iv, the fourth annual supermarket survey published by EIA.
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