The European Environment Agency has published a new report stating that the EU’s F-gas phase down is on track to reach the goal set out under the F-gas Regulation 517/2014, which requires EU member countries to cut their emissions by two-thirds by 2030.
The ‘Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases 2019’ report, published on February 4, is based on data collected by EU member states between 2007 and 2018. Some of the key findings are that the total supply and total import of f-gases decreased by 14% and 7% in 2018, respectively, compared to 2017. The report also found that GHG emissions caused by f-gases have been decreasing since 2015.
However, this doesn’t mean that all is well, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
While stressing that the EU’s F-gas legislation is the best in the world, and that it has already achieved a level of HFC reduction not envisioned by the Kigali Amendment until 2024, the EIA says the new report ignores the fact that “significant” illegal trade is taking place in Europe.
An EIA analysis of trade data indicates that HFCs equivalent to 119 million metric tons of CO2 were imported into the EU in 2018, but only 111.8 of these were reported by companies to the F-gas register, meaning that more than 7% of the imports went unreported.
In addition to this, there is illegal smuggling of HFCs into Europe. For example, in January 2020, the Bulgarian authorities seized almost 13 metric tons entering the country from Turkey, according to the EIA.
“Member states are making progress in strengthening enforcement at the border, but they are hampered by the lack of an effective licensing system for HFCs,” said Clare Perry, EIA Climate Campaign Leader. “It is currently far too easy for unscrupulous traders to import HFCs supposedly for transit outside the EU but then divert them illegally into the EU market – and the profits to be made are considerable.”
“Although there have been a number of large-scale seizures of HFCs at the border, demonstrating increased vigilance by customs authorities, we are unaware of a single prosecution with a penalty severe enough to deter future smuggling. This is a serious climate crime and member states need to do much more to ensure appropriate penalties are applied,” Perry continued.
“We expect the European Commission to propose significant legislative changes to strengthen implementation in the upcoming review of the F-Gas Regulation,” she concluded.
It is currently far too easy for unscrupulous traders to import HFCs supposedly for transit outside the EU but then divert them illegally into the EU market – and the profits to be made are considerable.Clare Perry – EIA