EPRSauthor By / March 8, 2014

Fluorinated greenhouse gases

6 language versions available in PDF format Fluorierte Treibhausgase Gases fluorados de efecto invernadero Gaz à effet de serre fluorés…

© Vladislav Gajic / Fotolia
6 language versions available in PDF format
Fluorierte Treibhausgase
Gases fluorados de efecto invernadero
Gaz à effet de serre fluorés
Gas fluorurati a effetto serra
Fluorowane gazy cieplarniane
Fluorinated greenhouse gases

Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases), which are widely used in heat pumps, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, account for a growing proportion of EU greenhouse-gas emissions. In 2012, the European Commission proposed a new regulation to rein in the use of F-gases in the EU. Parliament and Council reached a trilogue agreement on the proposal in December 2013.

Uses and climate impact of F-gases

Fluorinated greenhouse gases
© Vladislav Gajic / Fotolia

F-gases are commonly used in a number of industrial sectors as refrigerants, solvents, isolating gases, foam blowing agents and aerosol pro­­pellants. The potential of these F-gases to cause global warming is hundreds to thousands of times higher than that of CO2. F-gases accounted for 2.2% of EU15 greenhouse-gas emissions in 2011.

Worldwide use of F-gases has increased since the 1990s, when they replaced ozone-destroying substances that were phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer. With growing demand for refrigeration and air conditioning, especially in developing countries, F-gases could account for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, up from 1.3% in 2004. The EU, G20, US and China support international efforts to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) – the most important group of F-gases – under the Montreal Protocol, but no agreement on this was reached at the last Meeting of the Parties in October 2013.

Revision of EU legislation

The 2006 F-gas Regulation aims at avoiding use of F-gases where alternatives exist, and at preventing leakage. It also introduces reporting requirements. In its resolution of 14 September 2011 on climate-relevant non-CO2 emissions, the European Parliament called for a revision of the Regulation, which it considered to be ineffective.

In November 2012, the Commission proposed a new F-gas regulation which would limit production and use, and restrict the use of F-gases with very high climate impact in some sectors. It aims at gradually reducing the supply of HFCs in the EU by 2030 to 21% of today’s levels. HFC manufacturers and importers would receive annually declining quotas for placing F-gases on the market, based on past market share.

European Parliament

The Environment Committee’s report (rapporteur Bas Eickhout, Greens/EFA, Netherlands) called for faster and deeper reductions, reaching 16% of today’s consumption by 2030, and for the substitution of F-gases by safe, energy-efficient and cost-efficient alternatives for several additional sectors. Moreover, it proposed charging producers a fee for their use of F-gases (up to €10 per tonne of CO2-equivalent).

In December 2013, the EP and Council reached a trilogue agreement. The main points of the agreed text are:

  • The “phase-down” schedule remains as initially proposed by the Commission;
  • F-gases with high climate impact will be banned in stationary refrigeration systems from 2022, and in stationary air conditioning from 2025;
  • The issue of pricing or auctioning of quotas is addressed through a review clause that empowers the Commission to assess the method for allocating quotas.

Stakeholder positions

The refrigeration industry welcomes the trilogue agreement and believes it will “position the EU as a strong actor”. Environmental groups welcome the fact that an agreement has been reached but would have preferred stronger rules.

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