Danish industrial climate gas plan attacked

Government bid to phase out HFCs from 2002 "political," say fluorocarbon producers

Denmark's plan to phase-out the three industrial greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto climate protocol have been slammed by the European fluorocarbons industry as a "politically inspired exercise" based on "dubious technical arguments and containing glaring omissions." The European Fluorocarbon Technical Committee (EFCTC), an arm of chemicals federation Cefic, is hoping to drum up wider opposition among users and distributors of the gases, particularly hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), before the Danish deadline for comments expires at the end of March.

Due to go before the Danish parliament before the summer and also covering perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride, the proposal would ban the use of HFCs in new domestic refrigerators, insulating foam and heat pumps from 2002 and in new larger refrigerators, cooling plants, dehumidifiers and other applications by 2006 as part of Denmark's efforts to combat climate change (ENDS Daily 24 January).

"As producers, we stand little chance of getting the Danish government to change its mind but if...the rest of industry mobilises it may listen," EFCTC chairman Nick Campbell told ENDS Daily. He described the gases' contribution to Denmark's climate emissions burden as "minuscule." If necessary, the association would fight to block the legislation taking effect upon notification to the European Commission, Mr Campbell added, on the grounds that it contained insufficient technical or economic rationale and was a breach of regulations on technical barriers to trade.

Mr Campbell said the proposal's most glaring omission was failure to take into account energy efficiency, particularly since it was supposed to be part of efforts to reduce climate change. "The proposal was framed purely as a chemicals regulation," he said, but when HFCs' thermodynamic efficiency and insulating properties are taken into account "they may be much more efficient than possible alternatives."

He also regretted that Denmark had forged ahead without waiting for the rest of the EU. The European Commission supported a multi-stakeholder conference in Luxembourg earlier this month. When its climate change strategy is completed, hopefully within the next two months, it is expected to set up a task force to develop an EU-wide policy on industrial gases.

Meanwhile, the Danish proposals have led to a furious row between two UK refrigerant suppliers. Calor Gas Refrigeration, which markets hydrocarbon technology (ENDS Daily 14 August 1997), strongly welcomed Denmark's plan and called on other EU countries to follow suit. This prompted fury from leading fluorocarbon manufacturer ICI Klea, which accused Calor Gas of "irresponsible spin doctoring activities," which it warned could slow down the phase-out of even more damaging CFCs and HCFCs.

Follow Up:
EFCTC can be contacted through Cefic, tel: +32 2 676 7211; ICI Klea, tel: +44 1928 514 444; Calor Gas Refrigeration, tel: +44 1926 318 891.

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