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September 2, 2009

BELGIUM: EU refuses refrigerant switch delay

Car makers will not be granted a delay to an agreed 2011 European ban on R134a air conditioner refrigerant, European Parliament officials have said.

Car makers will not be granted a delay to an agreed 2011 European ban on R134a air conditioner refrigerant, European Parliament officials have said.

Automakers reckon the use of alternatives such as CO2 will add EUR40-200 euros (US$57-287) per vehicle which would be difficult to pass on to consumers in the current tough economic climate.

The European Union decided in 2006 that from 2011 it would ban the use of fluorinated chemicals, claimed have a powerful climate-warming effect when released into the atmosphere, Reuters noted.

The EU closed a legal loophole in April after learning that carmakers were planning to use it to avoid the ban for new car models until 2017.

But car industry lobby group ACEA said auto manufacturers still needed two to three extra years.

European industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen told a meeting in the European Parliament on Tuesday that a delay would not be granted, according to two officials present at the meeting.

“The rule is in force – it has to be applied,” both officials quoted him as saying in a response to a question by British MEP Chris Davies.

“The message could not be more clear,” Davies later said in a statement. “The European Commission has raised the stakes and told them – don’t mess with us.”

“Car makers…have had billions of euros in support from national governments, and it is time that they took a lead in helping reach Europe’s ambitions of reducing the release of global warming gases,” Davies added.

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