UK: The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has called for a stronger enforcement of the European F-gas regulations and prosecutions for those involved in the illegal refrigerant trade.
EIA climate campaigns leader Clare Perry said: “Member states are making progress in strengthening enforcement at the border, but they are hampered by the lack of an effective licensing system for HFCs. It is currently far too easy for unscrupulous traders to import HFCs supposedly for transit outside the EU but then divert them illegally onto the EU market – and the profits to be made are considerable.”
Her comments following today’s release of the latest official European F-gas phase down figures, which reported “good progress” achieved in 2018 but ignored the “significant” illegal refrigerant trade.
The EIA report Doors Wide Open, published last year, suggested that as much as 16.3MtCO2e of bulk HFCs were illegally placed on the market in 2018, equivalent to more than 16% of the quota.
Referring to this year’s planned review of the European F-gas regulations, Perry said: “We expect the European Commission to propose significant legislative changes to strengthen implementation.”
The EIA, like the rest of the European air conditioning and refrigeration industry, is also concerned at the apparent lack of prosecutions by EU member states.
“Although there have been a number of large-scale seizures of HFCs at the border, demonstrating increased vigilance by customs authorities, we are unaware of a single prosecution with a penalty severe enough to deter future smuggling. This is a serious climate crime and member states need to do much more to ensure appropriate penalties are applied,” Clare Perry said.