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Whitehall urged to step up monitoring of illegal F-Gas sales

Environmental Audit Committee findings back ongoing Whitehall commitment to EU regulation intended to curb use of high GWP refrigerant, as well as funding for improved enforcement

Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has called on the government to provide extended resources for the monitoring of the illegal sale, use and handling of F-Gas.  It has also backed continued adherence to European regulation focused on cutting out using F-Gas products for purposes such as air conditioning.

The committee’s latest report has examined EU F-Gas regulation and the potential impact of the UK withdrawing from the regime as part of the Brexit process, as well as the implications for reaching wider trade agreements in future from failing to ensure continued compliance.

A successful approach in tackling the emissions from fridges, air conditioners and asthma inhalers of F-Gas, identified in the report as greenhouse gases with a high global warming potential, could reduce the planet’s anticipated temperature rise this century by 0.5 deg C, the findings have concluded.

Committee chair Mary Creagh said that if the UK was serious in realising its carbon budget aims and reducing national impacts on global warming, it had to step up efforts to curb F-Gas emissions from functions such as cooling.

“At present, the government is failing to enforce the regulations surrounding F-Gas emissions, particularly on car air conditioning units, while the NHS remains reliant on F-Gas fuelled inhalers despite less damaging alternatives being available and widely used in other European countries.”

The government, the NHS, manufacturers and medical companies should be doing much more to address F-Gas emissions. International cooperation on removing F-gas emissions could have hugely beneficial consequences for future generations.”

Key conclusions

Among the report’s key conclusion were concerns that online vendors of F-Gas or products containing them may not always be checking the qualifications and training undertaken by customers to ensure they can handle and monitor these systems.

The committee added, “There are concerns from the refrigerant industry that some mechanics might be tempted to substitute more expensive lower GWP alternatives (which contribute less to climate change) for cheaper higher GWP refrigerants (which contribute more).”

“There are also concerns that as EU quotas begin to drive up the price of higher GWP refrigerants, mechanics may be tempted to retrofit mildly flammable lower GWP refrigerants in older non-flammable car air conditioning units, which could be dangerous.”

 

Considerations over how Brexit could alter UK commitments to F-Gas regulation was also identified in the findings as a significant challenge for industry, requiring a clear resolution on how UK-based companies with F-Gas quotas will remain part of the regime.  It is understood that key stakeholders from the cooling industry have been involved in discussions with government agencies and the EU around potential means of compliance with F-Gas regulation after Brexit in line with the existing commitments.

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