The European Union adopted Regulation 517/2014, the F-gas Regulation in 2014 to reduce the emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases in the EU. This regulation progressively reduces the quantity of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs*) that can be placed on the EU market using a quota system. Companies producing or importing HFCs in the EU receive specific HFC quota allocations for any given year. The goal of the quota system is to drive transition from high-Global Warming Potential (GWP) products to lower-GWP alternatives. The aim is to achieve a 79% reduction of HFCs by 2030 as compared to 2015 driving the transition to alternatives with lower global warming potential.
*HFCs are used as refrigerants in air conditioning, heating, cooling and various other applications.
Illegal trade of HFCs
One of the unintended side-effects of imposing this quota system and reducing HFC availability has been the spread of a black-market for HFCs in the EU. Illegal HFC refrigerants are being smuggled into the EU in a variety of ways. There are serious risks associated with the use of illegal HFC refrigerants.
Impact of illegal trade
- Industrial and consumer safety
HFCs are liquefied gases under pressure that need to be handled with care. Refrigerants that do not comply with established EU regulatory and safety requirements can pose a serious risk to the health and safety of installers, users and the general public.
- Climate action objectives
Illegal trade results in additional HFC emissions that are associated with global warming and ultimately undermines the objectives of the F-gas Regulation and EU’s climate goals.
Illegal trade has a serious negative impact on both Member States’ tax revenues and the economic viability of legitimate businesses who comply with the regulation.
- R&D and innovation
Companies across the whole supply chain have invested significant resources to achieve the objectives of the F-gas Regulation. The uncertainty surrounding the enforcement of the F-gas Regulation, however, may discourage private sector innovation and resources for developing new technologies for new substances with lower Global Warming Potential.
EFCTC is financing an independent private investigation agency and is actively collaborating with OLAF and member states’ customs authorities to disrupt illegal imports into the EU. As a pan-European effort to collect information on suspicious illegal activity, a multilingual and confidential ‘illegal import’ ACTION LINE has been launched.