The deputies are currently examining the 2021 finance bill. In the flood of aid and taxes under consideration, there is the removal of a planned tax sanction against the worst greenhouse gases: HFCs.
These gases, hydrofluorocarbons, are present in air conditioners, refrigerators and even in the cooling system of cars. They are very effective in absorbing heat and making cold. Produced by chemical manufacturers, mainly in China, they do not exist naturally. In the years 90, they replaced the old gases of aerosols (CFCs then HCFCs) and air conditioners, those which pierced the ozone layer. If they made it possible to solve this problem, they helped create another, since they heat the climate between 700 and 13,000 times more than CO2.
When these gases are contained in air conditioners or refrigerators, they are not a problem. Used with an engine, they have the same very stable thermal power and allow the device to keep cold for a long time. Where the trouble begins is when these devices leak or are at the end of their life, and no one is collecting the gases before grinding and throwing them away. They will then escape into the atmosphere and block the infrared rays, which return to space, increasing the greenhouse effect of our planet.
According to the researchers, if we do nothing, it will cause a half degree of warming more by the end of the century. This is why in 2016, after seven years of long negotiations, an amendment was signed on the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement signed to reduce the hole in the ozone layer. This Kigali amendment plans to reduce some HFCs by 86% by 15 years, first in European countries. But in 2018, instead of starting to decline, some of these gases suddenly increased globally, except in Europe. Proof that the market is not yet completely ready to do without it, and that illegal trafficking is still in progress.
These gases represent around 5% of France’s climate footprint. So this is only part of the problem, compared to the CO2 emitted by burning oil, gas and coal for our cars or to heat our homes. This tax was provided for in the Climate plan launched by Nicolas Hulot three years ago. years. It was to come into force next year and bring in 400 million euros, also to finance a transition fund for professionals. It is indeed possible to make cold with something other than HFC, such as CO2 (even if it remains a greenhouse gas, it will still be better).
But given the economic context, Bercy canceled this tax, explaining that professionals had already started to do without it. The abolition of this tax caused a stir in committee last week, in particular with regard to France’s low-carbon strategy. The parliamentary majority proposed an amendment to postpone it for a few years rather than simply canceling its implementation. According to CITEPA figures, we still issue 15 million tonnes per year of HFCs, mainly for the air conditioning of our buildings.