The European Commission is asking Italy and Malta to comply with EU rules on fluorinated gases, which are powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
On the recommendation of Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action, the Commission is sending a ‘reasoned opinion’ to both Member States formally requesting that they take action to ensure full compliance with the EU’s Regulation on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases (”F-Gas Regulation”). In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice.
Contrary to the Regulation’s requirements, Italy and Malta have not notified the Commission of their training and certification requirements for companies and personnel involved in activities concerning F-gases. Italy has also not notified its rules on penalties in case a provision of the Regulation is infringed.
In a counter-statement, the government said that it currently liaising with the relevant entities so as to establish the Minimum Qualifications courses in line with the requirements of the Regulation. It should be noted that the Government had already made a call for registration for these courses. However, only one bidder responded to this call and, upon evaluation, this bid was qualified as non-compliant with the relevant requirements.
Fluorinated industrial gases are used in several types of products and applications, mainly as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and halons, which are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol. Although F-Gases have no ozone-depleting properties, they have a high global warming potential, in some cases thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas.
The F-Gas Regulation, which has been supplemented by 10 implementing acts in the form of Commission Regulations, follows two tracks of action:
Avoiding F-Gases in some applications in which more environmentally benign alternatives are cost-effective. Measures include restrictions on the marketing and use of certain F-gases.
Reducing leakage from equipment containing F-Gases. Measures comprise: labeling of equipment containing F-gases, training and certification of companies and personnel handling such gases, containment and recovery.
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