There is ‘no question of a ban on HFCs’ in the EC’s Review of the F-Gas Regulation, although it is likely that dates will be set for decreasing reduction targets, according to the official tasked with overseeing the legislation next year. However, the Commission will be looking to enshrine maximum leak percentages in the revisions to the Regulation.
Marios Avraamides of the EC’s Climate Action Directorate told journalists that the EC would be taking a balanced approach to the future of HFCs, given that some
industries were more advanced in developing alternatives than others.
He said: “We are not even talking about ‘phase-out’ to begin with, we are talking about a phase down. Some industries are advanced but some are lagging behind.”
The EC has commissioned a consortium of Frankfurt-based consultants to research the current state of HFC usage and leak containment and to assess the possible options. Mr Avraamides said: “They will be looking at how effective and how cost-effective leak containment has been, that is one of the set requirements of the review.”
He said that the current thinking was focused on a producer-based cap and trade system, with the cap most likely to be based on the CO2 equivalent of the refrigerant emissions.
He said: “There is no hidden agenda, we are looking at a phase down based on reducing GWPs and on reducing charge and usage for instance. We want to give
refrigerant suppliers the opportunity to adjust their production. For instance, without changing technology significantly, we can make significant cuts in energy consumption.”
But Mr Avraamides said that the EC would seek to set definitive leakage rates as part of the regulation, above which the equipment operator would be liable to a fine or prohibition action.
However, members of refrigerant and energy campaign body Epee warned the industry to expect clampdowns in some areas. Friedrich Busch said: “We should
expect a hard battle. We should expect a ban on HFCs in some applications at least.”
Epee members called for the commission to allow the rac industry time to evolve a lower-GWP framework.
The EC’s policy, he concluded, would be to push for legislation on HFCs that could be applied globally, rather than the current regional approach.
Epee has formed its own F-Gas Review task force in a bid to target their lobbying activities.
Mr Avraamides provided some reassurance that the original carbon reduction targets were being met. He said: “Whether the Regulation succeeds or not in its
containment aims we started from a position of an 8 per cent reduction and we are already at 20 per cent, so it is a different policy context. But the question will be:
“Can we do more with the technologies we have.”