THE BLACK MARKET FOR REFRIGERANT GAS IS THRIVING ACROSS EUROPE.
THIS ACTIVITY FINANCES ORGANISED CRIME, THREATENS LEGITIMATE SMALL BUSINESSES AND HALTS PROGRESS TO CLIMATE GOALS.
LET’S TAKE ACTION, NOW.
What's the problem?
Europe has a big, hidden problem. Every year, large amounts of refrigerant gas are smuggled into countries across Europe. In 2019, 31 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent were smuggled into Europe, or around one third of the legally allowed quota. That is equivalent to the yearly climate impact of 23 million cars.
HFCs – short for Hydrofluorocarbons – are used in refrigeration, air conditioning systems, as blowing agents in sprays, foams and insulating materials and as fire extinguishing agents. They are highly effective and energy efficient refrigerants.
Due to the high global warming potential (GWP) of some HFC refrigerants, their consumption is being phased down. In Europe, this phase down is managed with quotas that promote a gradual shift to lower GWP alternatives.
These quotas are circumnavigated by criminal organisations, who make vast profits on the black market and through uncontrolled e-commerce. And by doing this, they also increase the amount of high GWP HFCs being circulated in Europe. Illegal shipments often contain products such as HFCs R-134a, R-404A, R-410A, R-32 and R-407C. Although this earlier-generation refrigerant is banned in the EU, HCFC R-22 is also still illegally imported.
Based on research by data consultancy Oxera, EFCTC has identified that smugglers have been trafficking shipments of HFCs up to a maximum of 73 million tonnes CO2e across EU borders in 2018 and 2019. That is the equivalent to the yearly emissions of more than 55 million cars – one-fifth of all the cars on EU roads. In 2020 investigative agency Kroll was able to build 74 evidence packs for a total of 3.8 million tonnes CO2e.
Europe cannot achieve its climate goals if we don’t all do our part to stop this.
If you have knowledge of, or see, any suspicious or illegal trading activity, report it. We will protect your anonymity and take the necessary steps to investigate.