ARLINGTON, Va. - The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, an industry coalition, has called upon the United States government to oppose a decision by the Environment Committee of the European Parliament to ban the import of U.S.-manufactured household refrigerators and other plug-in commercial refrigeration equipment that use hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant.

According to the Alliance, HFCs are energy-efficient, safe, non-ozone-depleting, and cost-effective refrigerants used in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment.

"The loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs, the impact on the economy and the trade deficit, and the international trade implications should compel the U.S. government to oppose the ban," stated Dave Lewis, Alliance chairman, and vice president of Government Affairs, Lennox International.

"While concern for the environment is paramount, it is important to note that the climate change impact is negligible since the refrigerant loss from this equipment is de minimus. Equipment produced in the U.S. uses HFCs to attain strict energy-efficient standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy, thus reducing the impact of climate change through the generation of electricity from emissive power plants," noted Lewis.

According to Dave Stirpe, Alliance executive director, "It appears that the European Parliament is willing to enact discriminatory non-tariff trade barriers to U.S. products under the guise of environmental protection. The use of product and technology bans as a means of achieving climate change objectives may violate trade pacts when there are less restrictive means of reaching the same environmental goals."

While the European committee voted to ban household refrigerators, certain plug-in commercial refrigeration equipment, and HFC auto air conditioning systems, it did not approve bans of HFC air conditioning, other refrigeration, and HFC-manufactured foam building insulation. However, amendments have been offered to the Parliament for consideration on March 30 to ban these uses. Both the Parliament and Council of Ministers will continue to consider these HFC bans as this proposal proceeds through the European Union's regulatory process this year.

"The industry in the U.S. and around the world has supported and successfully implemented global efforts to reduce HFC emissions. The action by the Committee is a contradiction of market-based principles. The Alliance supports the Parliament's focus on refrigerant containment and technician certification, and encourages it to address emissions reductions and the use of energy-efficient technology, rather than choosing technology winners and losers," stated Stirpe.

The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy is an industry coalition composed of about 100 manufacturers and businesses that produce and manufacture products that rely on HFCs.

Publication date: 03/29/2004