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Europe could end reliance on F-gases within 10 years

LONDON: As the European Commission considers revisions to the F-Gas Regulation, the piece of legislation regulating hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a new report published today shows that HFCs can realistically be banned in most new cooling equipment in the European Union by 2020.

Used as cooling agents in refrigeration and air-conditioning, and as blowing agents for foams , HFCs are a family of potent greenhouse gases thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

The new study, Availability of Low-GWP Alternatives to HFCs: Feasibility of an Early Phase-Out of HFCs by 2020, was produced by Michael Kauffield of the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, with the support of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), and demonstrates that HFCs can be banned from new equipment in 20 sectors by 2020, with energy-efficient and more climate-friendly alternatives able to take their place.

”The EU has a fantastic opportunity, and a responsibility, to phase out the use of HFCs. There is simply no reason for new HFC equipment or products to be allowed on the market when efficient, safe and affordable alternatives are available,” said EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry.

The European Commission is currently undertaking a review of its F-Gas Regulation, the law governing the use of HFCs in the European Union. An independent study commissioned as part of the review recently highlighted numerous shortcomings in the Regulation, including a lack of implementation and enforcement in many parts of the EU. Unless additional measures are taken, emissions of HFCs will rise by more than 80 per cent by 2050, jeopardising Europe’s climate targets.

”Banning the use of HFCs in new equipment could prevent the release of 600 million tonnes C02-equivalent by 2030, more than the UK’s entire annual carbon emissions.  At the same time, many of the alternatives are more energy-efficient than existing technologies,” said Perry.

The European Commission is expected to bring forward its initial proposals for a review of the F-Gas Regulation in the autumn. One of the key battlegrounds is over whether to rely exclusively on a cap and phase-down approach preferred by the HFC industry or whether to also include bans in sectors when HFCs are not needed. Bans have proven highly effective in other HFC sectors when adopted and are supported by a coalition of environmental NGOs including EIA, European Environmental Bureau, Greenpeace and WWF.

”The Commission has already indicated its intention to propose further legislation and we urge it to seize this opportunity to ban HFCs where they are no longer needed and propose measures that will ensure a swift transition to environmentally friendly cooling,” said Perry.

 

Interviews are available on request: please contact EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry at clareperry@eia-international.org or telephone +34 664 34 8821.

 

EDITORS’ NOTES

1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK-based Non Governmental Organisation and charitable trust (registered charity number 1040615) 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. Availability of Low-GWP Alternatives to HFCs: Feasibility of an Early Phase-Out of HFCs by 2020 is available to read and download at http://www.eia-international.org/availability-of-low-gwp-alternatives-to-hfcs

3. Alternatives to HFCs include a range of so-called natural refrigerants such as water, carbon dioxide, ammonia or hydrocarbons such as isobutane.

 

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