The European Parliament’s rapporteur on the review of the European Union’s F-Gas Regulation has submitted a report calling for widespread bans on the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases in the European Union.
The recommendation by the rapporteur to the European Parliament is claimed to ensure smaller businesses are prepared for future reductions in hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) available on the market.
Rapporteur Bas Eickhout’s report also contains a series of significant amendments to the European Commission proposal published in November 2012, the centrepiece of which is an economy-wide phase-down of fluorinated gases with accompanying use bans in pre-charged and hermetically-sealed equipment.
An earlier leaked draft of the Commission’s proposal had included bans in commercial and industrial refrigeration, but these were dropped after intensive lobbying by chemical manufacturers despite a European Commission study stating that safe, energy-efficient and cost-effective alternatives to HFCs are already on the market and can satisfy demand in nearly all industrial sectors by 2020.
The Dutch Green MEP’s amendments to the proposed F-Gas Regulation include strengthened containment and recovery measures, earlier bans for hermetically sealed equipment and additional bans on new refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment containing HFCs, with stationary equipment (other than centrifugal chillers) banned from 2020 and mobile equipment (other than fishing vessels) from 2025.
Other newly proposed bans include technical aerosols from 2020, foams from 2015, air-conditioning equipment in cargo ships from 2020 and a prohibition on the use of SF6 in medium voltage switchgear from 2020.
Mr Eickhout also proposes to bring forward the refrigeration servicing ban on very high-Global Warming Potential (GWP) HFCs (GWP>2150) to 2015, while increasing the charge size threshold from five tonnes to 40 tonnes CO2-eq and exempting very low temperature systems. This is supported by a parallel ban on high-GWP HFCs in new equipment as of January 1, 2015 and a provision to mandate that where high-GWP (>2150) F-gases are used to service refrigeration equipment outside the scope of the servicing ban, they must be recovered gases as of 2017.
The Rapporteur’s report additionally strengthens the phase-down schedule and provides for an allocation fee for placing HFCs on the market corresponding to €30 per tonne of CO2-equivalent. It will also require the mandatory destruction of by-product emissions from the manufacture of fluorinated greenhouse gases and other fluorinated compounds, including for the production of feedstocks and process agents.
A coalition of green groups, spearheaded by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), is concerned that a phase-down on its own, even if considerably tightened, will not provide operators and manufacturers with sufficient clarity for their investment decisions.
EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry said: “We congratulate Mr Eickhout for his rigorous and principled approach to this vital piece of legislation. As has been widely acknowledged, the Commission’s proposal had a number of significant gaps and also ignored recommendations put forward by its own consultants.
Members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee have until March 28 to submit amendments to the report, after which it will be debated in the Committee and put to a vote on June 19.