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A seizure of canisters of CFCs and HCFCs labelled as CFC-12 and CFC-22. Photo: EIA.
A seizure of canisters of CFCs and HCFCs labelled as CFC-12 and CFC-22. Photo: EIA.
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Euro Parliament ratifies F-gas ban - 'huge gain for climate'

The Ecologist

13th March 2014

The European Parliament has today adopted a ner Regulation to phase-down the use of super greenhouse gases - known as 'F-gases' - some of which are thousands of times more powerful than CO2.

This is a hugely encouraging lead from Europe in the fight against climate change.

F-gases - short for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - have global warming potentials hundreds to thousands of times higher than carbon dioxide.

They are widely used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire protection, aerosols and foams.

Members of the European Parliament voted 644 in favour of a Regulation to tighten F-gas controls, with 19 opposing and 16 abstentions. This will update a largely ineffective 2006 Regulation which allowed industry significant exemptions.

In the face of stiff opposition and alarmist lobbying from vested interests in the chemicals industry, Parliament negotiators led by Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout were able to secure important improvements while holding the line on other critical measures that will help European transition to climate-friendly alternatives.

The new measures include ...

  • A cap on the amount of HFCs which can be placed on the European market, gradually reducing over time the amount to 21 per cent by 2030. Their use currently accounts for about 2% of European emissions and this is growing rapidly.
  • From 2020 very high global warming potential HFCs (over 2,500 times more potent that CO2) will no longer be used to service and maintain refrigeration equipment.
  • Bans on placing certain HFC-based equipment on the European market in key sectors, including larger commercial refrigeration systems, smaller air-conditioning, foams and aerosols:
  • Alongside the cap and phase-down, the EU has now agreed to ban the use of HFCs in new equipment in a number of sectors, most notably in commercial refrigeration by 2022. 
  • A prohibition on placing HFC chemicals on the European market unless chemical producers can prove the destruction of HFC-23 by-product emissions has occurred regardless where production facilities are located.
  • Mandatory review of the financial burden to manage HFC chemicals that HFC producers and importers, mostly multinational companies, pass on to national authorities, European companies and European consumers in Member States.


The Commission is to submit a report by mid-2017 and, if appropriate, make a proposal to recover these costs from HFC producers and importers by moving away from free grandfathering of HFC quotas to allocate the HFC quotas instead at cost.

Welcomed by environmental groups

The move was welcomed by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) as a significant step forwards for the climate.

"This is a hugely encouraging lead from Europe in the fight against climate change", said Clare Perry, Head of EIA's Global Environment Campaign.

"With the EU showing a progressive lead in this field, this decision should act as a catalyst for future international negotiations in pursuit of a global deal to address HFCs which, if achieved, could avoid emissions of up to 100 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent by 2050."

Susanna Williams, Climate and Energy Policy Officer at the EEB, said: "Over 400 European companies, many of them small businesses, produce climate-friendly alternatives using natural refrigerants. Innovative businesses like these will only grow and generate jobs if Europe gives them the right market signal.

"Correct implementation of this regulation will be key if we are to avoid the same problems that plagued its previous incarnation."

The new F-Gas Regulation arose from the review of the 2006 version which did little to stem the growth of these dangerous chemicals.

 


 

Read EIA and EEB's policy paper on HFCs in the Review of the EU F-Gas Regulation at http://www.eia-international.org/policy-recommendations-on-the-proposal-for-an-f-gas-regulation

 

 

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