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EIA slams Romanian inaction on illegal refrigerant trade

UK: The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has accused enforcement authorities in Romania of “alarming complacency” in failing to tackle the illegal trade in HFC refrigerants. 

In July, the EIA’s report, Europe’s Most Chilling Crime, Romania was revealed to be a major illegal entry point in the EU for Chinese-made, HFC refrigerants. The findings of the report, which included details of commonly used smuggling routes and methods, as well as the names of some of those involved, were supplied to Romanian customs authorities prior to publication. 

Two months on, the EIA claims that no enforcement action has been taken. “Authorities in Romania have given no indication that action is being taken, even though the report was covered in the country’s media,” the group says.

The EIA report found that refrigerants were being smuggled in via Turkey and Ukraine and estimated that the black market activity was equivalent to between 20-30% of the legal trade – or as much as 30Mt of CO2e in 2019.

“We have the tools needed to tackle this crime – namely, coordinated intelligence-led enforcement, higher penalties and better monitoring of HFCs entering and transiting through Europe – but they need to be taken out of the box to be at all effective,” said EIA senior climate campaigner, Fionnuala Walravens.

Launched in English, Europe’s Most Chilling Crime has now been translated into French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Turkish and will be sent to relevant contacts in those countries, including enforcement agencies.

Related stories:

EIA exposes corruption in Romania’s criminal HFC trade8 July 2021
UK: The Environmental Investigation Agency has uncovered “systematic corruption” of customs officials in the illegal importation of refrigerants into Europe, with Romania identified as one of the major entry points. Read more…

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