They are not primarily producers of HFCs. Purchasing HFCs where it is considered legal and then smuggling them into the EU is all they need to do.
Illegal HFC smugglers are able to do this with the knowledge that customs is often under-resourced and stretched in their pursuit for arms, counterfeit goods and human trafficking.
When demand remains high, quotas that limit supply always result in an initial increase in cost.
What really happens when they buy black market HFCs?
Smuggled HFCs finance activities of criminal organisations which are frequently involved in smuggling arms, drugs and people. Profits made from HFC smuggling can often fund other dangerous and violent operations.
According to the independent organisation EIA, in 2018, smuggled HFCs added the equivalent of 16.3 million tonnes of CO2 to Europe. This represented more than 16% of the 2018 quota – and is more than the total CO2 emissions of Slovenia.
Based on data analysis by Oxera Consulting LLP, EFCTC estimates that up to 31 million CO2eqT were illegally imported into the EU in 2019. This is around one third of the legal quota in 2019.
So, this is a serious, and very large problem for planet and for people. HFC smuggling is not a minor offence. It spurs crime and destroys our climate.