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EIA calls for UK bans on HFCs in small splits

UK: Environmental group the EIA has called on the UK to move ahead of the European F-gas regulations and bring forward sectoral bans for certain HFCs in new equipment.

In light of last month’s UK government announcement to become the first major economy to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050, the EIA comments: “Reducing emissions from refrigeration and air conditioning further, and faster than the EU’s F-gas regulation requires, is a critical and viable policy for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” it says.

The environmental group also proposes a ban on all HFCs in new air conditioning units containing less than 3kg and a re-evaluation of the UK government’s renewable heat incentive.

The EIA’s comments follow this week’s criticism of the UK government by the Committee on Climate Change for failing to publish a plan to restrict the use of F-gases to uses where there are currently no viable alternatives.

Claiming that the UK has an opportunity to move ahead of the F-gas regulations, the EIA calls for the sectoral bans to be moved forward, “especially for commercial refrigeration where myriad alternatives exist and have been widely rolled out in the UK”. 

“Bringing forward the 2022 bans on HFCs in new commercial refrigeration would have a huge impact on the overall emissions from supermarkets,” it says. 

The EIA also calls for the ban on HFCs with GWP of 750 or more in new air conditioning units containing less than 3kg to be brought forward from the current proposed date of 2025 and extended to all HFCs to “avoid locking in climate-damaging equipment”. 

Heat pumps

Heat pumps and the renewable heat incentive are also targeted. “The UK must re-evaluate the renewable heat incentive to ensure it is not subsidising the uptake of heat pumps using HFCs and to ensure it incentivises only the adoption of technologies using low GWP alternatives, in line with the F-gas regulation.

“Natural refrigerant alternatives are available for most types of heat pumps and greatly improve the already green credentials of this heating source,” the EIA insists.

“If the UK wants to be a green leader, it must follow through on its net-zero ambition with concrete plans to drastically reduce emissions in the near-term. Fast action on eliminating the powerful greenhouse gases used in the cooling sector would set the UK on the right path,” said EIA climate campaigner Sophie Geoghegan. 

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