Containing the HFCs issue

Who at the beginning of October would have dreamed that the European Parliament would, by the end of the month, have been voting on an issue that could have seen the end of HFC’s (F-gases) being used for air-conditioning and refrigeration? Behind the scenes, some members of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament had put forward extreme amendments to recommendations for regulating F-gases to reduce their effect on global warming. No-one really expected these amendments to be accepted and then put forward for MEPs to vote on. While it is true that the HFCs that make up refrigerants like R410A and R407C have high global-warming potentials (GWP) (around 500 to 3500 times greater than carbon dioxide) they are used in sealed systems. Regulations to minimise the GWP of these substances are intended to be based on containment, not banning their use. The industry in the UK is well used to pumping down air-conditioning systems and returning the refrigerant to cylinders for reprocessing or destroying. It seems amazing that there are people offering advice to politicians with such drastic implications for modern life — particularly when containment can be seen to be working.



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