BRUSSELS: Leaked documents from the European Commission’s review of the EU F-Gas Regulation reveal a much-needed shake-up in the way Europe regulates hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), powerful global warming gases hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).
The proposed new HFC regulation will help stimulate Europe’s green economy by banning HFCs in large commercial and industrial refrigeration systems.
Other sectors highlighted as suitable candidates for bans by a previous Commission-funded study are omitted – including stationary air-conditioning, foams and fire suppression. These sectors are covered by an economy-wide phase-down, which intends to gradually reduce HFC consumption to 21 per cent of current levels by 2030.
However, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) questions the ambition of the phase-down and the lack of clear market signals for companies providing climate-friendly alternatives in the growing sector of air-conditioning.
“We welcome the draft proposal as a step in the right direction but it clearly doesn’t go far enough and could easily be seriously diluted if the lobbyists currently working behind the scenes for the HFC industry get their way,” said EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry.
“The Commission’s own analysis shows that most sectors can ban HFCs in new equipment by 2020 or earlier and there is therefore no reason not to propose bans in all these sectors. There are many more low-hanging fruits to be picked.”
While NGOs and companies producing HFC-free alternatives are backing sectoral bans, the HFC industry as represented by the European Partnership for Energy and Environment (EPEE) has made clear its opposition to any bans – not surprisingly, it prefers a gradual phase-down that will allow the flexibility for industry to continue marketing and profiting from HFCs.
EIA Campaigner Alasdair Cameron said: “EPEE is an organisation dominated by producers of HFC-based equipment and HFCs themselves and it will hardly favour banning HFCs. To paraphrase Einstein, the problems we face in the F-Gas Regulation will not be solved by the same minds that created them.”
“This revision is a chance to make up for lost ambition, and the only way to do that is to ban these super greenhouse gases when no longer needed. We are looking to the Commission to stand firm against the scaremongering of the HFC industry and its lobbyists, not cave into it as the world watches.”
Interviews are available on request: please contact Clare Perry at [email protected] or telephone +34 664 34 8821.
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 here.
3. Read and download EIA’s report Chilling Facts IV: HFC-Free Cooling Goes Mainstream here, the fourth annual supermarket survey published by EIA.
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