Campaigners are concerned that the proposal to phase down HFCs is being weakened.
Environmental campaigners have expressed concern that a European Commission proposal to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), powerful global warming gases much stronger than carbon dioxide, is being weakened by lobbying from the heating and cooling industry.
HFCs are mostly used by refrigerators and air conditioners. According to a leaked draft of the proposal, due to be put forward in November, appliances containing HFCs will be banned between 2015 and 2020, starting with domestic appliances and ending with commercial and industrial systems with a capacity above 100 kilowatts. HFCs would be phased down to 21% of 2008 levels by 2030 under the proposal.
The phase-down is at a slightly faster pace than that preferred by industry. A report released today (4 October), conducted for the European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE), which represents the heating and cooling industry, recommends reducing HFCs by 30% in 2020 and up to 65% in 2030. It concludes this can be done without bans. The existing regulation is set to reduce use by 40% by 2030.
The industry says it agrees with the Commission that additional savings are necessary to fulfil the EUs emission reduction requirements. But while they agree with most of the draft proposal, members of the EPEE said they have concerns that the ban categories are too broadly formulated. They said the phase-down schedule makes these short-term bans unnecessary.
However the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) questioned the ambition of the draft's phase-down, saying it does not provide a clear market signals for companies to invest in HFC alternatives.
“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,” said EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry.
The EIA welcomed the fact that the draft proposal contains bans. “This revision is a chance to make up for lost ambition, and the only way to do that is to ban these super greenhouse gases when no longer needed,” she said.
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