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Andrew Gaved, Editor

Decision reached on F-Gas regulations: Further Updated

The negotiations in Brussels have concluded on the fourth round, so new Regulations are now expected by next summer and application by as soon as 2015, subject to approvals.

With the full document still to be published, this is described as ‘an informal agreement’. The headline decision is a 79 per cent HFC phase-down target by 2030, but the major talking point is the proposed range of bans.

The first ban is the much-touted service and maintenance ban on high-GWP refrigerants, over 2500 GWP, which is now planned to come in in 2020.The ban is expected to apply to all equipment with a charge over 40t CO2 equivalent.

There are significant new equipment bans, preventing equipment to be ‘placed on the market’ in the EC if they contain HFCs. These bans comprise:

  • hermetically sealed new commercial refrigeration equipment containing HFCs with a GWP over 150 banned by 2020,
  • centralised refrigeration systems for commercial use with a capacity above 40 kW and containing HFCs with a GWP over 150 banned by 2022 - except cascade systems where primary refrigerant only can use HFCs under 1500 GWP
  • hermetically sealed room air-conditioning systems containing HFCs banned by 2020;
  • small split air-conditioning containing HFCs banned by 2022 (doesnt apply where GWP lower than 750), This may be brought forward to 2020, depending on the outcome of a review process;

In addition, a traceability system will be introduced to better track equipment containing F-gases imported into the EU. This replaces the proposed ban on precharged systems which proved unpalatable to air conditioning manufacturers.

Parliament has also announced several elements willl undergo further review before a decision is made. Among these are the fee which will be payable by refrigerant producers, which appears to have been deferred until 2017.

There also is a report and review on the need to have EU rules on training and certification for natural refrigerants, and a report on member state safety standards that could be an impediment for using natural refrigerants by 2017. These are seen as key to ensuring common standards for the introduction of naturals across Europe.

Also member states are encouraged to develop ‘producer responsibility schemes’ to ensure that the F-gases are responsibly recovered as well.

Bas Eickhout, the Green MEP charged with steering the negotiations as rapporteur, said:

“These new rules to curb climate-damaging F-gases are a vital addition to the EU’s arsenal of measures to tackle climate change. After falling back in other areas of climate policy, this new legislation will enable the EU to justifiably claim to be leading on this crucial issue for credible climate change action.The EU phase-down of these gases, agreed yesterday, will ensure a reduction of almost 80 per cent from the sector by 2030. These rules will stimulate innovation in the sector and be of immediate benefit to the numerous innovative European companies already leading in the cooling sector by stimulating demand for natural refrigerants.”

Heating, cooling, refrigeration and heat pump body Epee welcomed the new rules, although it noted that it still believes additional bans were not required to reach the climate goals. However, the association said it ‘accepts that these were needed to reach a common Political Agreement.’

Epee Director General Andrea Voigt said: “I am proud that our committed industry has shown progressiveness and has always supported ambitious environmental rules on F-gases through a cap-and phase down. The phase-down will steer innovation and help industry to move towards alternative solutions in a safe and efficient way.”

“We are also pleased that the rules have been concluded in First Reading, as our members will now have the regulatory certainty to ensure long-term business planning – all of which will ultimately benefit the EU economy.”

The Political Agreement will now need to be formally endorsed by both the European Parliament and the Council. After this the rules should become applicable from 2015, Epee said

Climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard tweeted earlier “Very important deal reached today on F-gases. This will deliver substantial emissions reductions and ensure innovation. The deal will give renewed political momentum to come to a global agreement on phasing down F-gases under the Montreal Protocol.”

Lobbyist the EIA gave a guarded welcome: “Naturally, we would prefer more bans with fewer loopholes as these are the most effective method of preventing greenhouse gas emissions and there is overwhelming evidence that they would be feasible and cost-efficient. Nevertheless, this is the beginning of the end for HFCs in Europe – at least now the industries involved will be able to see which way the wind is blowing and invest in cleaner, greener alternatives.”” said Clare Perry, Head of EIA’s Global Environment Campaign.

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