9am, and a man from Du Pont (which I think is the world's biggest chemical company) knocks on my door. I had forgotten he was coming and had just returned from the parliament's gym. He stood in his suit for our conversation while I stood, dripping sweat, in my shorts (but after 40 years as a runner I bet my naked leg muscles were better than his covered ones).
The topic was HFCs, hydrofluorocarbons, which are used as refrigerants in supermarket chill chests, in air conditioning, and in foam insulation. Those in use today have an average global warming potential many times greater than CO2.
My Du Pont man proposes the creation of a trading system to discourage their use as an alternative to taxes or an outright ban. No doubt corporate self interest prevails but the idea has merits.
But I was interested to hear the latest on car air conditioning systems because I was involved in shaping the current legislation a few years ago (often pointing out that my car, a Nissan Micra, did not have an air conditioning system).
The refrigerant most often used is HFC134a, made in Runcorn by Ineos Fluor (ex ICI) which has a global warming potential of 1,500. The law we passed says that no new car from 2011 can use HFCs with a GWP greater than 150. This was set because there is an HFC with a GWP of this amount, although many in the car industry plan in future to use CO2 as a refrigerant which has a GWP of just 1 - but it has a few design problems, if it were to leak into the vehicle the driver might fall asleep.
What was interesting was to learn that Du Pont has now developed an HFC refrigerant suitable for car air conditioning with a GWP not of 1,500 but of just 4.
It's a text book example of how european environmental regulation drives forward innovation and brings products to the market.
Let's have more!