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EU ignores mistakes of past

Relaxation of licensing system for ozone depleting substances (ODS) will tempt black marketeers, says EIA

The EU’s revisions to ODS regulation does not take account of past mistakes and continues to allow loopholes for illegal trade in refrigerant gases, the EIA has warned.

In a statement released to the press, the environmental body criticised the EU with the knowledge that its previous experience in tracking the illegal trade in ODS shows a black market emerged a decade ago with CFCs.

In 1997 EIA exposed CFC smuggling into the EU. In 2001 it also revealed how CFCs manufactured in the EU turned up on the black market in developing countries.

“Rather than learn from past mistakes, the EU has determined to repeat them by allowing loopholes in licensing requirements and permitting the export of vast amounts of HCFCs, banned in the EU, to developing countries, precisely at the time they are trying to curtail their consumption,” said Fionnuala Walravens EIA’s global environment campaigner.

Ms Walravens said that with a relaxation of licensing controls for imported chemicals – ODS movements into and out of the EU are generally tracked using a licensing system – there will be little or no knowledge of where imports are sold in the EU or where they go.

The EIA said the loopholes work against the guiding principals of the regulation, which state that export of products and equipment containing HCFCs after a ban has come into force, and ODS for servicing, should be prohibited in order to avoid the building-up of banks of ODS in other countries.

“However the details of the regulation contradict this by permitting exports to continue for several substances and uses after the date that they have been banned in the EU,” Ms Walravens said.

She questioned the wisdom of EU member states rejecting proposals by the European Parliament to put an early stop to large volume exports of HCFCs until 2020.

She qualified the statement by adding that developing countries run the risk of being increasing dependent on such chemicals without considering less damaging alternatives.

Virgin HCFCs will be banned from use in the EU from January 2010. After this time only recycled HCFCs are supposed to be used within the EU.