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It’s a complicated world of regulation

The cooling industry seems to suffer more than most when it comes to dealing with regulations.

At times it seems we spend half our time coming to terms with ones that help us – or are designed to help us, which of course is not the same thing – and the other half lobbying to change the ones that don’t.

The proposed F-Gas revisions are a case in point. The proposal to ban precharged units and the recommendation to monitor F-Gas accreditation at the point of sale are both good examples of the difficulty in reconciling good intentions and vested interests. 

Even when regulations are enthusiastically embraced by a majority, there are often a minority who are absolutely incensed by it. There’s no better example than the German carmakers and their last-ditch stand against using HFO 1234 yf. The saga has taken on soap opera proportions, with ever more plot twists. 

Who would have thought Daimler and its compatriots could have come up with so many different objections so late in the day (late in the day is a massive understatement given the MAC Directive was originally supposed to come into force last January and as far at the EC is concerned definitely came into force this year.)

The German attitude put me in mind of altercations I have had with my children where they come back with: “I know I can’t do that, but what about if I do this?”

Who would have thought that only days after being told to get their act together in about as firm a fashion as a Brussels policymaker can muster, the German safety authorities would say “Can we have a couple more years?”

It is a clever strategy, because who in the European Commission could argue that CO2 is not a good thing, refrigerant-wise?

Interestingly, those who know more about the behaviour of CO2 than I do are very sceptical that the gas could be efficient enough in southern Europe. Do you think Daimler and BMW will only sell their cars in cold countries in future?

But it is a real test of the commission’s ‘teeth’. The German authorities are theoretically in daily contravention of one of the EC’s flagship climate regulations. They should therefore have the full weight of European law thrown at them.

But of course, against that, as wryly noted by several observers, Germany is currently rather important to the functioning of the EU.

Exciting times for those of who have to watch these events unfold, but I am sure deeply frustrating times for those who are involved. 

And what does it mean for the sales of the new type-approved Mercedes and the like?

We will have our New Refrigerants Question Time in May (see page 13) and I am sure MAC will be a lively topic, alongside the rather closer to home stationary refrigeration and air conditioning issues. I hope to see you there. Do you think the ‘German standoff’ will be resolved by then?

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