There is a real risk that the F-Gas regulation will be not be finalised by Christmas, raising the spectre of a delay in the legislation of as much as two years. That was the stark warning from consultant Ray Gluckman to the audience at RAC’s Retail Question Time earlier this month.
The two-year delay would occur because the European Parliament breaks for new elections next year, stalling the passage of the regulations to full legislation.
Mr Gluckman, whose company SKM Enviros is close to the negotiations, having advised both the European Commission and UK ministers, told the RQT audience: “I am afraid that there is a 50:50 chance the parties won’t agree this side of Christmas and if that happens we will have to wait two more years because there is a parliamentary break. I think that’s would be an awful possibility for all of you in the room.”
The negotiations were being thrashed out in Brussels as RAC went to press, with the European Parliament, representing MEPs and the Council of the EU, representing national ministers, still at loggerheads over a number of points. The major sticking point is believed to be the range of bans being proposed, which the council believes in many cases are too severe for the national industries to cope with practically and cost-effectively. As reported in RAC last month, the MEPs see the bans as key elements in the quest to reduce emissions, seeing them as a cost-effective way to drive change.
The outcome looks set to either be a series of trade-offs, as the parties seek to hammer out a solution before Christmas, or a long delay in the regulation. Mr Gluckman said: “The industry’s future depends on what happens in the next two weeks in Brussels. We know that there will be a phase-down, but inevitably there will be compromises over one ban or the other. If the council wins out, there will be flexibility, but if parliament wins out, we may get lots of bans.” See page 12 for more.
An indication of the way things may be going over bans was provided by the environmental lobby. As RAC went to press, a collective of green organisations including Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency was making a last-ditch appeal to all EU ministers for strong F-Gas regulations. They urged ministers to push for ‘more ambition’ ahead of what was described as ‘dismal’ UN climate talks in Warsaw, where no global actions were taken on HFCs.