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Let’s not get dragged back by the current

The industry has made such great progress on the F-Gas Regulations – but that doesn’t mean we can be complacent

“And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

If Julian Brunnock is going to quote economists in his column on the last page of RAC December magazine, I thought I had better throw in some giants of literature at the start to balance the books.

The quote is from F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and some of you may recognise it, if, like me, you were dragged along to the movie because Leonardo Di Caprio is in it wearing a white suit.

This quote came to mind in the wake of last month’s ACRIB conference on F-Gas, believe it or not. It is all about the feeling that no matter how hard we work at trying to changing something, we end up being dragged back to the old ways.

Read the news on p6 of RAC December about the proposed implementation of F-Gas and see whether you agree – we are onto Version Two of the regulation and still we are having to make the same calls for a national database of F-gas certification that we made last time.

And still we are asking when someone is actually going to be prosecuted (or punished in some way at least) for what is effectively F-gas fraud.

Unfortunately the Environment Agency line still seems to have strongly worded letters as its most fearsome weapon.

At least now the EA seems to have a much stronger emphasis that a contractor or an engineer should prove that they are certified before any gas is handed over at the wholesaler or any refrigerant work is done on site.

This sounds like progress – last time around, a number of wholesalers complained that asking for proof from each customer would be burdensome. If everyone is in no doubt that they are under the same scrutiny, it will mean a level playing field.

We must surely do all we can to get a national database sorted out – or at least some quick method of checking that a company has the appropriate certification. In all sorts of industries you can phone a hotline to check that the applicant is bona fide, so protestations of data protection must be surmountable, surely?

Talk of level playing fields brings us nicely onto another area where that ‘boats against the current’ theme comes to mind: doors on fridges. At the ACRIB conference, consultant Ray Gluckman made a statement that, if true, should make everybody sit up and listen.

He said:  “If we put doors on cabinets throughout the supermarket sector tomorrow we would save more [in CO2 equivalent emissions] than the F-gas regulation. But for some reason, the supermarket industry is still resisting.”

More emissions than F-Gas? That’s massive. If ever there was a time to stop the retailers arguing about competitive pressures and all agree – or be forced to agree, it is now.

We should be lobbying for change – not least because it will show the industry in a really positive energy-saving light. It could herald a shopping revolution! And it will certainly make the imminent Retail Question Time interesting.


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