European Parliament rejects calls to ban most dangerous greenhouse gases

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Environmental groups and progressive MEPs reacted angrily this to the European Parliament's rejection of calls to ban some of the most dangerous greenhouse gases from fridges and air-conditioning units.

MEPs were considering a package of measures to regulate the use of ‘F-gases’ – fluorinated gases which were used to replace CFC’s in fridges, air conditioners, and foams after they were themselves banned for the damage the caused the ozone layer. F-gases are highly potent greenhouse gases – as much as 23,900 times stronger than CO2 – and their use is regulated under the Kyoto Protocol.

UK Green MEP Caroline Lucas, a member of the Parliament’s Environment Committee, proposed a series of amendments to the proposed regulations, including marketing bans for some equipment containing F-gases. But MEPs rejected both her amendments and the package itself, meaning the chemicals industry will be allowed to continue to produce F-gases, and EU members will be unlikely to meet their legal commitment under the Kyoto Protocol.

Speaking after the vote Dr Lucas said:

"By voting against further restrictions on F-gases, MEPs have prioritised the interest of the chemicals industry over tackling climate change – and meeting our international legally-binding commitments to do so. F-gases are real climate killers. Some of them will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years, continuing to influence the world’s climate as they do."

“In the face of an increased incidence of devastating freak weather events – like Katrina and Wilma or the current drought in the Amazon basin – voting for the vested interests of the chemicals industry is simply unacceptable, even in the short term."

Parliament also voted for the member states to adopt a 'harmonised' approach to F-gases, effectively prohibiting individual members from setting ambitious national legislation to ban or limit the manufacture and use of F-gases. Traditionally, member states have always been allowed to go further than the EU as a whole, but this is now being taken apart as the drive for a neoliberal corporate paradise intensifies.

“Today’s decision prevents EU members from taking concrete steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore it is decision which will contribute directly to climate change. This is bad day for the EU, and the fight against climate change, and I am deeply disappointed,” Dr Lucas added.

The rejection of the proposal follows intense lobbying from US corporations, as noted in a recent spectrezine weblog “ The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has reversed the worst elements of the Commission’s proposal, but the EPEE is lobbying hard to prevent those amendments from being endorsed by the European Parliament in plenary next week.” That is precisely what happened. Corporate Europe Observatory's report on the tactics used, Chilling Intent – the F-gas Industry Plot to Subvert EU Climate Legislation is available here