EU plan to ban HFCs comes under attack
Plans by the European Parliament’s environment committee to ban HFC refrigerants in air-conditioning, heat pumps and refrigeration from 2020 have received an unwelcoming response from the industry. Refrigerants in the firing line include R410A, R407C and R134a. FETA, the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations, says that the environment committee has exploited a procedural loophole to deny the majority of MEPs any chance to influence their proposals to ament the F-gas Regulation.
The FETA statement says, ‘By voting to give their rapporteur a mandate to begin immediate negotiations with the European Council they have side-stepped the normal process of permitting all MEPs an open discussion on the amendments at an initial reading in plenary session of the EP.
Effectively, this provides the rapporteur carte blanche to horse trade with member states behind closed doors. He will be armed with a range of unpalatable measures, such as banning HFC refrigerants in air conditioning from 2020.
‘This callous act of political expediency should be seen in the context of a desire by Brussels to attend the Montreal Protocol meeting in November with a severe European agreement to phase down HFCs — in the mistaken belief that other nations would follow their ill-advised lead.’
The European Partnership for Energy & the Environment (EPEE) has also expressed concern. Director General Andrea Voigt said, ‘We are very disappointed that the environment committee has chosen the course of command and control politics with the highest price tag that Europeans will have to pay for.’
HFCs have a substantial GWP (global-warming potential), and she explains that the industry has supported an ambitious climate-change law to radically reduce F-gas emissions by 65% by 2030. ‘We also supported innovative market mechanisms to achieve this reduction which balanced environmental ambition and cost effectiveness.’
While EPEE members are always looking for the optimal refrigerant solution, the organisation comments, ‘There is no perfect refrigerant suitable for all applications, so laws need to be flexible to be able to cope with the many technologies and sectors involved.’