The amount of ‘super-greenhouse’ hydrofluorocarbon gases (HFCs) placed on the EU market remained below the limit allowed under regulations for the third consecutive year, according to the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases 2019 report of the European Environment Agency (EEA Report No 20/2019).
The EEA data report that HFC consumption fell 38% in the EU in 2018, with consumption 46% below the 2019 limit set under the Montreal Protocol’s Kigali amendment on reducing HFCs to a level not expected until 2024.
The 2015 EU F-gas regulation, which introduced annual quotas on the placing on the EU market of HFCs by producers and importers, aims for a two-thirds emissions reduction by 2030 compared with 2014. Companies are required, under the regulation, to report annual production, imports, and exports of all F-gases. Emissions of the gases, which are included in the EU’s climate targets to cut CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 and 40% by 2030, had increased for 15 consecutive years to 2015 and fallen since.
Climate campaigners however have warned the reporting ignores the illegal trade and that EU regulations are not strong enough to tackle the illegal trade in the substances. Analysis by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) NGO suggests imports of HFCs in 2018 were equivalent to 119 million tonnes of CO2e, while the EEA reported 111.8MtCO2e, a discrepancy of 7% of the quota.
Illegal smuggling of HFCs into Europe is a significant problem, according to EIA. Member states are hampered in tackling illegal trade by the lack of an effective licensing system. “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.” The EIA expects the European Commission to propose legislation to strengthen implementation in the upcoming review of the F-gas regulation.
Sources: EEA, EIA, ENDS