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MEPs give overwhelming vote to strengthen F-Gas Regulation: Reaction

European Parliament’s ENVI Committee has decided by 48 votes to 19 to strengthen the EU’s F-Gas Regulation from 2020, including a lower final level of 16 per cent. Refrigeration body reacts with alarm

Cedric Sloan, FETA director general, hit back over the decision, claiming that MEPs are pursuing their own agenda.

He said: “I am appalled at what happened in the Environment Committee, both by the process used and by the content of the proposals. We always expected the green rapporteur to select excessive and unwarranted amendments which far exceed the requirements of the EU Low Carbon Roadmap for 2013.

By voting to give their rapporteur a mandate to begin immediate negotiations with the European Council, to their great shame they have side-stepped the normal process of permitting all MEPs an open discussion on the amendments at an initial reading in plenary session of the EP.

Effectively, this provides the rapporteur carte blanche to horse trade with member states behind closed doors.  He will be armed with a range of unpalatable measures, such as banning HFC refrigerants in air conditioning from 2020.

This callous act of political expediency should be seen in the context of a desire by Brussels to attend the Montreal Protocol meeting in November with a severe European agreement to phase down HFCs – in the mistaken belief that other nations would follow their ill-advised lead.

It is the owners, operators and users of HFC based RAC equipment across Europe who will once more pay the price of this political folly.”

Refrigeration group Epee expressed its alam at the MEP’s vote saying ’ Parliament is asking asks for the impossible and does not care who pays the bill.’

Epee director general Andrea Voigt said: “Industry supported an ambitious climate change law to radically reduce f-gas emissions by 65% by 2030. We also supported innovative market-mechanisms to achieve this reduction which balanced environmental ambition and cost-effectiveness. We are very disappointed that the Environment Committee has chosen the course of command and control politics with the highest price tag that Europeans will have to pay for,”

“F-gases are used in a multitude of products that heat, cool and chill our homes, supermarkets and buildings. They are used because they are safe, efficient, and don’t harm the ozone layer but they are greenhouse gases and need to be regulated closely. Epee members are always looking for the optimal refrigerant solution, but there is no perfect refrigerant suitable for all applications. So laws need to be flexible to able to cope with the many technologies and sectors involved.”

“EPEE calls upon decision-maker to continue to support a phase-down to achieve Europe’s climate objectives and sustaining a 30 billion Euro economy, over 200,000 direct jobs and millions of indirect jobs in Europe.”

From the opposing standpoint, Clare Perry, a Senior Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), welcomed the vote:

“The ENVI Committee looked at this in great detail, and the fact that members saw through the scaremongering and misinformation bodes well for future negotiations with European Council. HFC-free alternatives are ready, and this is an opportunity to put European businesses at the forefront of the ever-growing refrigeration and air-conditioning markets while scoring a crucial victory for the climate.”

The phase-down schedule was strengthened to reduce to a final step of 16 per cent of 2009-12 levels by 2030.

Other measures adopted by the committee include an allocation fee that must be paid in order to access the annual HFC quotas under the ‘phase-down’ mechanism.

Prior to the vote, EIA and a large coalition of concerned NGOs called on their supporters to urge ENVI Committee members not to falter in the face of chemical industry’s pressure and to vote to ban HFCs in new equipment and products by 2020.

Ms Perry added: “This important piece of legislation now goes before the Council of the European Union, and we call on member states to show the same kind of leadership that Parliament has demonstrated.”

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