Refrigerants, from words to deeds

Davide Sabbadin, Climate and Circular Economy Policy Officer at European Environmental Bureau
Davide Sabbadin, Climate and Circular Economy Policy Officer at European Environmental Bureau

Or better, from labels to substance. This is what Europe –European Commission and some virtuous member Countries – ask Italy in the refrigeration and refrigerant issue. The Regulation 517 and its review in progress are in fact producing situations where market players act more slowly than what they should to face the transition towards minor GWP, but the fault must certainly be split into equal parts between those who go slowly and those who do not encourage the acceleration.

The European Green Deal is certainly a very important opportunity to deploy a proactive transition towards a lower environmental impact and higher sustainability, but in the specific case of refrigerants, the attention has missed and the allocation of institutional resources to the matter is still missing.

More clearly, we do not know the detail of the Recovery Fund assignment by sectors, yet, but already today analogous provisions to SuperBonus might have induced reluctant buyers to bear the costs for the replacement of all those plants, systems and appliances that still currently operate with obsolete gases, no longer available on the market and noxious owing to the greenhouse effect that their eventual release generates.

However, the fault lies at the top, as usual: it is hard to think that the sector benefits from attention and systemic projects when the Ministry of the Environment provides just one official specifically committed to the matter.

We are confident in the establishment of the Ministry of Ecologic Transition wanted by Mario Draghi, but at the same time we hope that the time has come to face these problems no longer in segmented manner, pressing one day on the button of the “electric” energy efficiency, another on the running sustainability one and a third day on the life end management.

We need holistic thinking and organic direction, to be applied to the matter of refrigerants in virtuous and prospective manner (studying for instance the potential risks HFO might represent and of which we have not clear results from research, yet), integrating them in precisely organic and wide-ranging considerations. This can lead us to identify the best strategic choice to knock down the climatic impact of the cold chain and at the same time to favour both the many users and the massive national manufacturing field.

Too difficult questions to face when we decide whether to carry out a retrofit or a revamping? We do not think so: if politics will be able to boost and to support the transition, as declared in intentions, also the reluctance shown towards costs might be attenuated or even disappear, and the course towards 2030 and the carbon footprint decrease might decisively be less arduous.