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EIA bats for HFCs at UK summit

Major retail groups push for end to climate-damaging supermarket refrigeration

| | Jun 11, 2013 | 8:02 pm
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Major retail groups push for end to climate-damaging supermarket refrigeration

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a UK-based NGO, has welcomed the renewed commitment to phase out HFCs demonstrated by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) at its 3rd Refrigeration Summit in London. Announcing this in a news release, EIA said that it had further called on the UK Government to support its retailers through the introduction of ambitious measures in the European Union F-Gas Regulation.

The EIA pointed out that Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are potent greenhouse gases used widely in refrigeration and air conditioning, despite the availability of alternative climate-friendly refrigerants, and that the commercial refrigeration sector is responsible for over 30% of the UK’s HFC emissions. In this context, said EIA, the European Parliament is currently discussing amendments to the EU F-Gas Regulation that would ban the use of HFCs in new refrigeration equipment by 2020.

According to EIA, UK retailers are at the forefront of replacing HFCs with natural refrigerants such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrocarbons, with hundreds of stores now running on climate-friendly technologies. This has reportedly had a significant impact on retailers’ carbon footprints, not only through reducing the direct impact of HFC emissions, but also because increased energy efficiency of the systems has led to lower electricity usage. Tesco, which hosted the CGF summit, has 65 HFC-free stores in the UK and announced at the summit that it would double the number this year, EIA added.

The Agency also revealed that despite the fact that British retailers stand to benefit from the introduction of HFC bans, the Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), responsible for steering through the EU legislation, appears reluctant to propose or support such measures.

In light of this, Gregory Barker, UK Minister for Climate Change, told the summit: “This Coalition Government remains determined to be the greenest ever and we need our retail sector – which is of great importance to the UK economy – to follow suit and take a leading role on energy efficiency. Refrigeration is a significant part of this and that is why I’m calling on retailers to agree to freeze out costly HFC refrigeration.”

EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry, on his part, added: “Gregory Barker has called on retailers to phase out HFC refrigeration, and indeed, most leading UK retailers are starting to do this. The best way the UK Government can support these retailers and incentivise climate-friendly replacement technologies is to ban the use of HFCs in commercial refrigeration equipment in the new F-Gas Regulation. We urge Mr Barker to speak to his counterpart in DEFRA to ensure these measures are a priority for the Government.”


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