ECOS and partners welcome IEC positive vote on commercial refrigeration

fridgesECOS is very pleased to welcome a newly-approved standard that will allow larger quantities of climate-friendly alternatives to fluorinated gases in commercial refrigeration. The positive vote was confirmed last week in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Fewer barriers to natural refrigerants

The newly-approved international standard IEC 60335-2-89 provides safety requirements for commercial refrigerating appliances and contains positive amendments to the previous version, which posed barriers to the use of climate-friendly flammable refrigerants (i.e. propane) through tight limits to the allowed charge size. A publication of the standard with the current provisions in place will pave the way for the increase of the use of climate-friendly refrigerants – a significant contribution towards the mitigation of climate change. As Rita Tedesco, ECOS Programme Manager in charge of refrigerants said: This outcome is a milestone in the mitigation of climate change and the implementation of climate legislation, which is now de facto being hindered by safety standards. 

Lengthy process

The positive vote was a result of a complicated process. Firstly, the standard was developed without the participation of civil society stakeholders: ECOS has yet to be allowed to join and directly contribute to the IEC Technical Committee (TC61) which worked on the standard. Despite these challenges, however, ECOS together with a number of partners (NGOs, business associations and industries), co-signed a position paper inviting national standardisation bodies to cast a positive vote and approve the standard. Added to the lack of transparency were the efforts of chemical lobbies to undermine 6 years of discussions and a progressive final draft.

The vote and complications

The initial result of the vote was presented as negative due to a miscalculation of votes. In view of this, ECOS and other stakeholders [1] issued a request to the IEC to review one of the votes, which was not compliant with the IEC procedural rules, to recount the result and correct it. Consequently, the IEC 60335-2-89 standard was eventually approved at the beginning of May.

Need for more transparency and inclusiveness in standardisation

We very much hope that this positive result will pave the way for a wider allowance of climate-friendly refrigerants in standards beyond commercial refrigeration, and we stress that, in order to achieve this, a more transparent and inclusive standardisation process is necessary.


[1] DUH (Deutsche Umwelthilfe), EIA UK, EIA US, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fűr Internationale Zusammenarbeit), Greenpeace, Legambiente, ZERO (Associação Sistem Terrestre Sustentavel)