Stronger enforcement of EU F-Gas regulations to tackle illegal trade should be prioritised in upcoming reforms of the legislation, according to the European FluoroCarbons Technical Committee (EFCTC).
A stricter and more consistent approach by all member states to tackle black market supply is among several recommendations set out in an official response from the committee to the European Commission’s review into the future of F-Gas.
The industry body said that it continued to support the overall structure and aims of the regulation but would welcome a more consistent approach to cracking down on black-market trade. Since 2015 the F-Gas regulation has been able to drive the European market towards adopting lower GWP products, while ensuring sufficient choice and flexibility in how this is done, the EFCTC claimed.
It added, “Data from the European Environment Agency has demonstrated that F-Gas emissions have been decreasing since 2014 and leading the European Commission to conclude that the F-Gas Regulation’s provisions are effective.”
“However, the impact of illegal trade quantities since 2018 on the magnitude of the emission reductions is uncertain. As the objective of the F-Gas Regulation is to reduce carbon emissions by two-thirds by 2030 - in terms of CO2 equivalent - compared to 2015 levels, improved enforcement at member state level is essential to achieving this objective.”
The EFCTC’s official response to F-Gas review has instead urged authorities to do more to curb the illegal trade of refrigerant alongside the existing commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
It argued that authorities had struggled to handle an increase in illegal imports of HFCs in recent years due to an inconsistent response from EU member states.
This response has served to delay the introduction of more low-GWP solutions on the European market, according to the EFCTC.
The trade body accepted in its response to the review that progress had been made to try and tackle the illegal trade. However, the organisation has called on the European Commission to implement more harmonised and dissuasive penalties across the EU for illegal trade of refrigerant.
Another recommendation of the EFCTC is to try and improve monitoring of the regulation across the continent. This could be managed by requiring individual member states to evaluate logbooks from registered suppliers to get a clearer picture around leakage, recycling, recovery and reclamation rates when handling refrigerant.
In the longer-term, the organisation said that amendments beyond the existing phasedown schedule should be clearly aligned with the Montreal Protocol requirements as a means to ensure the competitiveness of EU-based companies.
The EFCTC stated, “Any new measures proposed during the review must take into account the investments that market operators have already made to meet the requirements under the current F-gas regime, which run until 2030.”
“Alterations to the current regime could potentially be both disruptive and costly, with little actual environmental benefit.”