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Refrigerants Australia seeks clarification on EU changes

Refrigerants Australia (RA) has made a submission to the European Commission posing questions and raising concerns about changes to the F-gas regulation that were recently approved by the European Parliament.

The changes will see a complete phase-out of HFCs by 2050.

Among RA’s chief concerns is that the “F-gas regulation lacks technological neutrality,” which should guarantee “freedom of choice by not forcing users into using any specific technology”. In its submission, RA expresses doubts that the EU rule changes were developed with this principle in mind.

The submission also raises concerns about the scope of the regulations, their adherence to the Kigali Amendment, and whether or not they address potential safety issues.

RA Executive Director Dr Greg Picker has provided HVAC&R News with the full submission. Picker notes that RA is “asking questions, not speaking in opposition” to the EU’s rule changes.

You can read the full submission below.

Refrigerants Australia’s full submission to the European Commission

Refrigerants Australia would like to thank the European Commission for the effort for revision of
the EU F-Gas Regulation (EU) No 517/2014 and the opportunity to provide comments on the
WTO/TBT notification. There are several questions about the design and implementation of the
F-Gas legislation that potentially has WTO impacts that Refrigerants Australia would appreciate
being answered.

Before raising specific questions, Refrigerants Australia notes that the F-Gas regulation lacks
technological neutrality, which in principle guarantees freedom of choice by not forcing users into
using any specific technology. Refrigerants Australia contends that legislation should define the
objectives to be achieved and should neither impose, nor discriminate, in favour of the use of a
particular type of technology to achieve those objectives. We are concerned that the F-Gas
regulations were not developed on this basis.

Refrigerants Australia’s specific questions include:

  1. Our understanding is that HFOs and blends with HFOs with very low GWPs are subject to a
    forthcoming ban under the F-Gas regulation. While we do know that the EU is considering
    potential restrictions on these substances given a possible link with PFAS, according to a
    briefing provided by European Commission officials in Nairobi at the recent Montreal Protocol
    meeting any restrictions on HFOs due to PFAS will be implemented under the REACH
    program and not the F-Gas regulations. Given that the F-Gas regulations are focused on the
    GWP of refrigerants and HFOs offer among the lowest GWP solution available, we would like
    an explanation of this component of the F-Gas legislation.

  2. The European Union F-Gas regulations were made – in part – to meet the requirements of
    the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The Kigali Amendment does not include
    HFOs. Additionally, the Montreal Protocol and the Kigali Amendment included the implicit
    understanding between governments and industry that HFCs would be managed in a similar
    way to ozone depleting substances – certainty of long term transition away from high ODS
    and now high GWP substances in exchange for an approach that minimised industrial
    disruption. Refrigerants Australia asks for an explanation regarding the decision making to
    reject these principles which made the Montreal Protocol the most successful environmental
    treaty in history.

  3. The F-Gas regulations seem to be based on the presumption that non fluorinated
    substances – particularly hydrocarbons (with GWP values similar to HFOs) can be used in
    all air conditioners. These refrigerants, however, have significantly higher risks than HFOs
    and their mixtures because of their flammability and explosive properties. Other alternate
    refrigerants have issues with pressure and toxicity. Air-conditioning companies are
    concerned about the safety aspects to life and property of using these refrigerants.
    Refrigerants Australia asks whether the European Union has conducted a comprehensive
    impact/risk assessment subject to independent review and industry consultation. If this has
    been undertaken, this information could usefully be shared with industry. If such an
    assessment has yet to be completed, Refrigerants Australia asks for it to be completed prior
    to the product bans coming into place.

What are your thoughts on the EU regulations and RA’s response? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Markus Spiske via Unsplash.

One Reply to “Refrigerants Australia seeks clarification on EU changes

  1. technological neutrality died with the Montreal Protocol because the industry was not capable of being to move away from CFC by themselves. Now because the industry does not understand that the time has come to move away from HFC and their global warming impact, the politicians do what they are there fore, pull the brakes that the industry cannot do by them selves. The same will happen to the PFAS and TFA producing unsaturated HFC when they will be regulated under the REACH in Europe.
    I don’t see that RA will have any influence at all – it too late you are reacting and the votes were convincing that they really mean it. The best thing RA can do is to accept the changes are coming and move on, there is enough to keep everyone busy for many years ahead except for the production of fluorinated substances

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