The European Parliament's Environment Committee agreed to back a ban on the use of fluorinated gases in refrigerators and air conditioners. The greenhouse gases, introduced as an alternative to ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons after their ban, are up to 23,000 times more damaging than greenhouse gases. The plan, which seeks a gradual phase-out and ban in new equipment by 2020, would have to be approved by a plenary session of parliament and by EU member countries before going into effect. As the Commission pushes for natural non-synthetic alternatives such as ammonia or carbon dioxide, the industry says it supports the move away from fluorinated gases but says that it needs time to develop the right refrigerants, which have the potential to be flammable, toxic, or less energy efficient. However, environmental campaigners say the replacement technology is already available and would help Europe gain an international edge. For the full story, see