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Government Response to F-Gas emissions published

12 July 2018

The Environmental Audit Committee publishes the Government Response to its report, UK progress on reducing F-Gas emissions.

The Committee's Report examined the UK's progress on reducing the use of F-gases which have a global warming potential (GWP) many times greater than carbon dioxide.  It found that the UK could go further to reduce F-gas emissions and noted that the reduction of such emissions globally could knock 0.5 degrees off global temperature rises. 

Chair's comments

Mary Creagh, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said:

“Tackling F-gas emissions is crucial to reducing the UK's greenhouse gas output, and doing so would demonstrate our commitment to tackling climate change. Last month, the Committee on Climate Change expressed support for our F-gas policy recommendations, given its warnings that the UK may miss its overall carbon budgets.

“Reducing our reliance on asthma inhalers containing F-gases could take place quickly given the reliable and clinically effective alternatives. But figures show that the proportion of inhalers dispensed using F-gases increased last year.

“The Government's failure to address the subsidy scheme for heat pumps means that up to 15,000 heat pumps using F-gases will be paid for by the taxpayer over the next three years.

“While the Government was positive about many of our recommendations, we are disappointed it has not shown more urgency and set out clear targets and a timeframe for achieving them. The Government can and should do more.”

UK Government could make more progress on reducing F-gas emissions

The Committee's Report called upon the Government to:

  • Ensure that the NHS increases the use of environmentally friendly inhalers
  • Work with industry to create a recycling system for inhalers (MDIs) that use F-gases
  • Include MDIs in its Waste Strategy to avoid them going to landfill
  • Use its procurement power to promote products with a lower GWP
  • Enforce existing F-gas regulations
  • Address the regulatory impact of the UK's withdrawal from the EU's F-gas regime
  • Stop allowing heat pumps with high GWP F-gases to receive subsidies from the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme

Defra in its response has stated that it will look at number of our suggestions to make further progress on reducing F-gases:

  • NICE and the NHS will work with clinicians and industry to promote greater use of low GWP inhalers.
  • It will discuss with industry how recycling of high GWP inhalers can be increased
  • It will consider whether high GWP inhalers should be included as a problematic waste stream in its upcoming Resources and Waste Strategy
  • It will continue to work with industry to address barriers to the uptake of low GWP refrigerants in heat pumps
  • It will explore how Greening Government Commitments can be used to set early targets for phasing out products containing high GWP F-gases
  • It will consider whether and to what timescale restrictions are required for high GWP top-up kits for car air conditioning
  • It will run a specific campaign aimed at manufacturers and suppliers to inform them of the ban on technical aerosols that use high GWP F-gas propellants
  • It will work with industry to publicise options for training in alternative refrigerants

Further information

Image: iStockphoto