The European Commission is facing calls to rethink proposed timelines to end the use of HFCs for heating and cooling with campaign groups and industry bodies split on the best way forward

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) campaign group has said the European Commission’s proposed amendments to F-Gas regulations do not go far enough to end a reliance on HFC-based refrigeration.

The EIA was responding to the publication of new proposals from the commission earlier this month that aim to accelerate an already agreed phase down of HFC use from 2024. This phasedown is intended to reduce use of these gasses to 2.4 per cent of a 2015 baseline within 26 years.

These proposed amendments have proved controversial to organisations and bodies representing the European HVACR sector that have argued against any drastic amendments to F-Gas targets set out for the current decade in particular.

However, the EIA has argued that the amendments, which are yet to be approved, fail to set out bans for refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump systems that use HFC refrigeration. It cited European Commission research that noted that a range of NGOs have argued that such bans should have been already in place over the last decade.

Clare Perry, climate campaigns leader for the EIAs said the proposals, which have been published more than 10 years after the last F-Gas review, reflected a “wealth of missed opportunities” to ramp up commitments to tackle climate change.

She said, “This proposal doesn’t go far enough to eliminate the use of HFCs and unless it’s significantly amended, it will result in yet another lost decade of climate change action at a time when the world can least afford it.”

The EIA stated that the EU has traditionally led on efforts to tackle F-Gas emissions with its aim to phase out use of ozone depleting substances ten years ahead of other international initiatives.

Ms Perry said that current decade was now a critical time for action to tackle climate change and limit global temperature rises to 1.5 deg C from pre-industrial levels. There latest proposals were not seen as being strong enough for the EIA.

She said, “The Commission’s plan lacks conviction. This proposal, along with the recent plan to restrict methane emissions, begs the question as to how effective its leadership really is.”

The EIA has argued that stricter policies around phasing out HFC refrigerants would also be important to aims set out in the REPowerEU strategy that aims to install 30 million new heat pumps across the EU’s member states by 2030. This strategy is part of a response to limit reliance on Russian gas following its invasion of Ukraine.

Ms Perry argued that the ambitions for expanding heat pump installations should not lead to an increase in HFC use when lower GWP alternatives were available.

She said, “Given this much-needed and overdue roll-out of heat pumps, it is critical that the revised F-Gas Regulation includes robust measures to ensure these heat pumps do not lock in the use of HFC refrigerants, effectively pitting one piece of climate legislation against another.

“Climate-friendly natural refrigerants can cover a significant proportion of the heat pump market, so a double climate win is possible – if the [European] Parliament and Council have the vision to make it happen. Waiting until 2027 for bans to take effect is not an option.”

A range of industry bodies representing the HVACR sector have called for the commission’s proposals to be rewritten. These calls are based on fears that the stricter targets being proposed risk undermining existing industry commitments to end a reliance on higher GWP refrigerant as part of a gradual shift towards alternative gas and more efficient systems.

Associations also argue that the accelerated schedule for ending HFC use proposed by the European Commission would serve to limit heat pump adoption that is a key aim of European environmental policy and recent recommendations by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to electrify heating and cooling globally.


Source link