Tensions rise ahead of Friday’s critical HFC-23 vote

This year has certainly got off to a flying start, with all of last year’s campaigning on the HFC-23 issue about to come to a head. This Friday, European Countries will vote on a proposed regulation to ban the use of HFC and other industrial gas credits in Europe’s carbon markets from January 2013. If successful this regulation will change the face of the world’s largest carbon market and end the scandalous subsidising of Chinese and Indian chemical companies by European consumers.

Credit EIA

Fin at the open hearing at European Parliament last Wednesday

In a final attempt to ensure the vote goes well Clare Perry and myself took a day trip to Brussels last Wednesday to speak at an open hearing in the European Parliament. The event brought together high level speakers, politicians and policy makers in order to give a rounded view on the future of these credits, with a presentation from Connie Hedegaard, the European Commission’s Climate Commissioner.

EIA together with UK NGO Sandbag was invited to speak on behalf of civil society and we took the opportunity to remind the audience that removing HFC-23 credits from carbon markets would help clean development in poorer countries. Despite a general acceptance of the need to restrict these credits some companies with vested financial interests in the projects would like to see the timing of the ban delayed to allow many million more fake credits onto Europe’s carbon markets. We warned how this will undermine Europe’s international climate negotiating position.

After quite a heated debate there were a few moments to discuss issues with the audience and catch up with other colleagues, then a mad dash back to Gare to Midi, a quick stop to stock up on cheese and chocolate, then onto the train home.

Despite the success of the day the outcome of the vote is far from decided. We urgently need to let European Ministers know that their citizens are watching.

In an attempt to make this quite complex issue a little bit more digestible one of our hugely talented supporters Yasmeen Ismail (www.rhumbaba.co.uk) has created a short cartoon, with Ronni Ancona very kindly doing the voice over.