Businesses seek to block EU’s ban on harmful greenhouse gases

Businesses trying to block a European Union ban on hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) appear to have started “a lobbying frenzy” to ensure they can continue to use the powerful greenhouse gases in refrigerators, foams and air conditioning systems. The European Commission is currently reviewing its legislation on restricted fluorinated (F) gases, which includes HFCs. The gases can often be thousands times more harmful than carbon dioxide and are estimated to account for about two per cent of EU greenhouse gases (GHGs). But transparency organisation Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is concerned that industries using F-gases have launched a multi-million Euro campaign to prevent ambitious restrictions from coming into force. In a report published 13 September, CEO found a spike in the number of companies and trade associations with an interest in F-gases registering their lobbying interests with the EU at the end of 2011. More than 50 F-gas organisations and firms joined the EU Transparency Register, which lists organisations seeking to influence EU policy. CEO cannot prove the companies’ ambitions, because it is optional for lobbyists to state their cause on the register and many choose not to do so. However, it is concerned they could be seeking to repeat the success of the 2006 lobbying battle in which the HFC industry successfully avoided a ban on HFCs. Green groups and industry lobbyists promoting alternative refrigeration systems are also campaigning for an outright ban on F-gases in the new legislative proposals. However, CEO found that green groups’ voices and spending power were outnumbered by at least 10 to one by the mainstream HFC industry. Registered HFC industry organisations declared a total lobbying budget of €23.9m (£19.2m). In contrast, eight green groups lobbying on HFCs declared a budget of €2.2m and another eight companies supporting natural refrigerants declared €900,000. “This is a classic case of vested interests in industry mobilising massive financial resources to block effective climate regulation,” report author David Leloup said. “Industry lobbyists are targeting the EU in a bid to be able to continue with business as usual, regardless of the fact that safe, cost-effective alternatives are readily available on the market, and regardless of the devastating impact on the climate.”

Business Green, 14 September 2012 ; ;