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Industry fears a “quick fix” F-gas deal

EUROPE: While the full implementation of a new European F-gas regulation is likely to be delayed, it is believed that negotiators are keen to reach agreement next month. 

This would allow a final vote on the regulations in the European Parliament in November, but be too late for full implementation on 1 January 2024. While some aspects of the regulation may be able to be activated in the early months of 2024, it is believed that the bans, quota changes and the new phase-down will probably be delayed until 1 January 2025.

However, with all sides of the trilogues negotiations between European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, said to be keen to do a deal, this will mean concessions. 

“I think the risk is they would all like to get a quick fix, a quick deal, but we all know, a quick fix is not necessarily going to be a good piece of legislation,” said EPEE director general Russell Patten.

Industry is concerned that with the time limits involved aspects of the regulation will not be clearly defined. 

Referring to the initial proposals, Patten said: “There’s a lack of granularity, a lack of things that are well explained such as the definitions of products like chillers – there’s still not a clear definition.

“If you have unclear definitions in a regulation how do you follow it? A lot of members and industry are asking, well, is my heat pump a heat pump or is it an air conditioner? Or is it an AC and a heat pump? 

“We would just like a very good piece of regulation, which is very clear with what we have to do.”

Patten also repeated concerns regarding a full F-gas ban as suggested by the European Parliament and particularly its impact on the rollout of heat pumps

“We very strongly disagree with the parliament and those members of states who think a full F-gas ban is the right way forward. I think it will stifle innovation.”

He continued: “This regulation was never about a full ban on F-gases, it was continuing the phase down. We all agree as an industry that we should get to net zero by 2050. There’s no issue there. We’re all in harmony. but it’s the speed at which things happen. A full F-gas ban is just not going to help. 

“There is this view that we don’t need F-gases anymore. Unfortunately, that’s simply not true. If you ban F-gases overnight what do you do if there are building codes that won’t accept propane? If you can’t use HFCs then you go back to the gas boiler. 

Exemptions have been proposed for the use of HFCs for heat pumps, for safety reasons and for instances where hydrocarbons are simply not allowed. However, it is unclear at the moment who might decide those exemptions and how long the process might take. 

“The manufacturing sector sector needs to know what it can and can’t do long term. It can’t operate on exemptions. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Patten also pointed out that EPEE members use HFCs, HFOs and “natural” refrigerants. “It’s not that we are against one or the other we want the range of refrigerants, to be able to have the best gas and the best application.”

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