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Reprieve for HFCs as Euro ban is overturned

AS SOME expected, the European Parliament has rejected the amendments to the F-Gas regulations recently recommended by the EU environment committee which could have seen HFC refrigerants banned from 2010. The European Parliament also rejected proposals to change the legal basis of the regulations which would have allowed individual member states to introduce their own selective HFC sanctions and legalised the bans imposed by countries like Denmark and Austria.
Reprieve for HFCs as Euro ban is overturned
EPEE (The European Partnership for Energy and the Environment) welcomed the outcome of the vote as a significant step forward in the fight against climate change.

 Speaking after the vote, Friedrich Busch, director general of EPEE said: 'The European refrigeration and air conditioning industry is now ready to meet the challenge of practical emission reduction  via containment and monitoring  as endorsed by the Parliament today.'

On the legal base decision, Friedrich Busch commented: 'The Parliament's confirmation of the dual Internal Market-Environment legal base as proposed by the Council of Ministers is the best way to meet two goals simultaneously: allowing for a high degree of environmental protection whilst also ensuring an efficient and competitive single market.'

Speaking on the series of product ban amendments Friedrich Busch said: 'All additional bans would have been completely unrealistic. The phase-out dates and use restrictions were proposed without any serious prior impact assessment (of social, economic and safety feasibility and the total environmental impact including energy efficiency). The Parliament resolutely rejected this approach in today's vote.'

The vote by the European Parliament returned the F-gas regulations to the original 'common position' of being a law to contain, monitor and control the emission of HFCs.

'It is good news that the Common Position submitted to the Parliament resulting from extensive scientific and objective stakeholder consultation process was effectively supported, declared Nick Campbell, of the European Fluorocarbon Technical Committee (EFCTC). 'It appears that the facts demonstrating the global benefit of HFCs, including their positive impact on the climate, have been taken into account,' he added.

In a statement to the press, the EFCTC stressed 'The priority of industry now is to continue to invest in improved HFC systems for the long-term, to drive forward progress on containment and reducing emissions of all greenhouse gases. Reduced leakage, improved system design, improved efficiency and recovery and recycle at end of life is industry's focus ahead of the review foreseen in the Regulation after some years time.'

'The decision taken by the Parliament is a victory for common sense,' commented Tony Kaye INEOS Fluor's European President. 'The Parliament resolutely rejected any additional bans, which would have been completely unrealistic. The phase-out dates and use restrictions had been proposed without any serious assessment of their impact on society, economic and safety feasibility or the total environmental impact including energy efficiency. Such bans are seen to be unnecessary and unrealistic.'

INEOS Fluor also supported the rejection of the amendments that would have changed the legal basis of the Regulation: 'The support of a dual legal base (Art 95 and 175) as proposed by the Council of Ministers provides a high degree of environmental protection and ensures an efficient and competitive single market,' added Tony Kaye.

He also paid tribute to the support of the acr industry: 'I have the refrigeration and air conditioning industry as a whole to thank for the important part they have played in providing MEPs with vital information needed to come to these sound decisions.'

Green groups were understandably outraged by the outcome of the vote. Greenpeace described the decision as 'a victory for multinational profits, and a defeat for the children being born today who'll inherit a warmer, more dangerous world.'

UK Green MEP Caroline Lucas, a member of the Parliament's environment committee, which originally proposed the amendments that would have seen HFCs banned, said 'This is bad day for the EU, and the fight against climate change, and I am deeply disappointed.'

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