The European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers reached an agreement late on Tuesday 31 January on the hotly contested F-gas bill.
The proposal had pitted environmentalists against F-gas manufacturers and the refrigeration industry over whether countries like Denmark and Austria should be allowed to maintain stricter controls than elsewhere in Europe.
It was finally agreed that they could continue to do so, leading most to believe that the Commission will drop its charges against these two countries.
Fridges, air conditioning and other 'stationary applications'
According to a Council statement, "stricter national measures adopted by 31 December 2005 may be maintained until 31 December 2012". A double legal base will therefore now apply to the regulation on 'stationary applications' such as fridges and air conditioning:
- Internal market (Article 95 of the EC Treaty) for placing on the market, use and controls including product labelling which is now compulsory
- Environment (Article 175 and 176 of the EC Treaty) for monitoring, training and certification of workers, data on recovery and reporting
In addition, the Council says member states "may promote the placing on the market of equipment which uses alternatives to gases with a high global warming potential [and which] further reduce the climate impact".
As part of the compromise, a review clause has been added allowing the Commission to make further proposals before end 2008 "in the light of existing and new international commitments regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions".
Car air conditioning systems
Parliamentarians have left untouched a proposal for phasing out F-gases used in car air conditioning systems:
- As of 2011: Ban for F-gases with a global warming potential (GWP) of more than 150 for new models coming out of factories. This effectively rules out the use of HFC-134a but allows the less potent HFC-152a, which has a global warming potential of 120. (CO2 = 1 on GWP scale).
- As of 2017: Ban on F-gases with GWP of more than 150 for all cars