With the F-gas revision and the impending ban on PFAS, important topics were on the agenda of last week’s ASERCOM Convention in Brussels. Both regulatory projects contain many challenges for the industry. Bente Tranholm-Schwarz from DG Clima made it clear at the convention that there will be no leeway in the new targets for the F-Gas phase down.

Frauke Averbeck from the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) is leading work for the EU on a comprehensive ban on PFAS (Forever Chemicals) under the Reach Regulation, together with Norwegian colleagues. Both regulations will not only dramatically limit the choice of refrigerants. Other products necessary for the industry that contain PFASs will also be affected.

A special highlight was set by Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of the Club of Rome, with her keynote on challenges and solutions for a global industrial and climate policy from the point of view of socially compatible growth. Among other things, she promoted her model of a sustainable, diversified and resilient Industry 5.0, inviting all decision-makers to shape this path together.

The eagerly awaited presentation by Bente Tranholm-Schwarz gave an overview of the main features of the Commission’s proposal for the upcoming EU F-gas revision. This necessary revision is derived from the EU’s „Fit for 55“ climate targets. The aim is to reduce the EU’s CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030, Tranholm-Schwarz said. The EU should take the lead in climate protection and the reduction of F-gases. If the EU acts successfully, other countries would certainly follow this example. European industry is taking the lead worldwide in forward-looking technologies and is benefiting accordingly. In particular, the knowledge about the use of refrigerants with low GWP values in components and systems generates a competitive advantage for European component manufacturers in global competition.

In ASERCOM’s view, these partly drastic adjustments within a very short time span until the entry into force of the F-Gas revision are extremely ambitious. The CO2 quotas that will be available from 2027 and 2030 onwards pose particular challenges for the market participants. However, Tranholm-Schwarz emphasised in this context: „We are trying to give a clear signal to the specialised companies and the industry what they will have to prepare for in the future. Those who do not adapt to new conditions will not survive.“

A panel discussion also focused on vocational education and training. Tranholm-Schwarz as well as ASERCOM agree that the training and further education of professional installers and service personnel of refrigeration-air conditioning-heat pump specialist companies must be a priority. The rapidly growing heat pump market will be a particular challenge for specialist companies. There is a need for action here in the short term.

In her keynote speech on Reach and PFAS, Frauke Averbeck explained the plan of the German and Norwegian environmental authorities to essentially ban the PFAS group of substances. These chemicals are not degraded in nature, and for years there have been strongly increasing levels in surface and drinking water – worldwide. However, even with the current state of knowledge, some refrigerants would be affected by this ban. Averbeck presented the current, revised timetable. She expected the regulation to be implemented or to come into force probably from 2029.

ASERCOM concluded by clearly pointing out that the revision of the F-Gas Regulation on the one hand and the uncertainty regarding the impending ban on PFAS on the other did not provide a sufficient basis for planning for the industry. „With the parallel regulatory projects that are not synchronised with each other, politics is depriving the industry of any basis for planning,“ says ASERCOM President Wolfgang Zaremski. „The ASERCOM Convention 2022 has shed a lot of light on this, but also shows that the industry expects planning reliability from the EU in the medium term.“