Limits on the use of certain gases with high global warming potential have prompted the mechanical services industry to introduce new, more efficient refrigerants. However, the phasedown in hydrofluorocarbons, or F-Gases, is dictated by EU regulations, prompting uncertainty over the UK’s post-Brexit position.
The Environmental Audit Committee has launched an inquiry into the progress made so far and the impact leaving the EU is likely to have. Interested parties are invited to submit opinions and the committee outlined a range of questions to which it is seeking answers, including:
- Should the UK go beyond EU regulatory minimums and develop stronger F-Gas legislation?
- Will the UK need to create new infrastructure to replicate relevant EU institutions, expertise and research that focus on reducing F-Gas emissions?
- What policies should the government bring forward to reduce F-Gas emissions?
- How will UK businesses and consumers be affected?
Under EU targets, the quota of carbon dioxide equivalent entering the market will drop by 80% by 2030, compared to a baseline set in 2015. According to the Committee on Climate Change, UK emissions have not been falling at the rate expected, although the country is still in line with targets if the F-Gas regulations have their predicted effect.
Enforcement of those targets is one of the key matters for the inquiry, particularly as whichever body takes responsibility will need adequate resources to ensure compliance.
Mary Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, explained: "The UK’s F-Gas reduction targets are set and monitored by the EU. With Brexit looming, businesses need clarity on how the UK will reduce F-Gas emissions, and clarity on who will ensure the government meets its targets."
The Kigali Amendment
One potential solution is the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which the UK ratified in September 2017. This is due to come into force in 2019 and commits nations to reducing F-Gases by 85% by 2036.
However, the Environmental Audit Committee raised concerns over relying on the amendment, as the UK is party to the Montreal Protocol both as a member of the EU and as an individual state. This, the committee says, means it “may be unclear if it is bound by the whole of the agreement as the UK leaves”.
Submissions to the inquiry will be accepted until 12pm on November 6th 2017. If you’re concerned about the effect the F-Gas phasedown may have on your air conditioning system, click below to contact the 361 Degrees team for advice.