Stakeholders debate on EU fluorinated greenhouse gases regulations
Environmentalists warn the industry lobby is trying to block a phase-out of super greenhouse gases in Europe’s refrigeration and air conditioning systems.
Leaked European Commission’s review on the EU F-Gas Regulation reveals an objective to reduce the emissions from F-gases by up to 79% by 2030. It is expected to to be achieved through the introduction a phase-down scheme, bans on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in certain sectors and strengthening the current provisions related to containment and recovery.
90% of F-gases used in the refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) industry are HFCs. They are powerful global warming gases, hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).
Not surprisingly, the European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE), representing the RAC, prefers a gradual phase-down and are against any bans. It would allow the flexibility for industry to continue marketing and profiting from HFCs.
The London-based NGO Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) welcomes the plan but says more market bans should be proposed. It also indicates the lack of clear market signals for companies providing climate-friendly alternatives in the growing sector of RAC.
EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry said: “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.”
EIA Campaigner Alasdair Cameron added: “EPEE is an organisation dominated by producers of HFC-based equipment and HFCs themselves and it will hardly favour banning HFCs.”
Research by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) found a significant increase in the number of companies and trade associations with an interest in F-gases registering to a Transparency Register. Here organisations voluntarily declare they are seeking to influence the European Commission. CEO found that 52% of these industry bodies registered during the last quarter of 2011. Given that the register is voluntary, these findings may represent only a small part of major EU lobbying trends.