Sharp cuts urged in industrial climate gases

NGO says emissions to triple without controls, calls for EU-wide cap, presumption against use

Emissions of the three industrial greenhouse gases controlled under the Kyoto protocol will rise even faster than previously thought and the EU should take immediate steps to reverse the trend, according to a Dutch government-funded study from environmental group Climate Network Europe (CNE).

HFCs, PFCs and SF6 currently contribute a very small proportion of overall global warming potential, but their emissions are rising, in particular as HFCs are phased in as substitutes for ozone-depleting CFCs. Among EU countries, only Denmark has moved strongly towards an early phase-out of their use (ENDS Daily 9 November).

This spring, a study for the European Commission suggested that combined emissions of the so-called F-gases could double by 2010 (ENDS Daily 17 May). According to CNE, a tripling is more likely. It reckons that without controls the gases could contribute 15% of all global warming potential by 2040 and 40% by 2100.

Immediate measures should be taken to avert this scenario, CNE argues, starting with an EU-wide cap on production and consumption of F-gases at an unspecified level. There should also be a presumption against the use of F-gases, the group adds, combined with their elimination wherever technically feasible. A large part of the study builds a case for this being the case in most applications.

Third, says CNE, the EU should not enter into any voluntary agreements with industry for limiting F-gas emissions. Agreements "have a poor record of achieving their goals," the study claims, and entering into them "would not be constructive and could serious undermine attempts at creating real results in reducing greenhouse gas emissions".

Other proposals made by the group are for ecotaxes on the gases, an immediate ban on non-essential uses that result in atmospheric emissions, clear labelling of products containing F-gases, new standards on leakage reduction and maintenance of equipment containing them, a target of 85% of metered dose inhalers to shift away from use of HFCs, and more research into F-gas alternatives.

Follow Up:
Climate Network Europe, +32 2 231 0180, and the study, Keeping Cool Without Warming the Planet.

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