The European Commission took an important step today towards long-term climate objectives by presenting a proposal to significantly reduce emissions of fluorinated gases (F-gases). Emissions of F-gases, which have a warming effect up to 23,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, have risen by 60% since 1990, while all other greenhouse gases have been reduced. The proposed Regulation aims to reduce F-gas emissions by two-thirds of today’s levels by 2030. It also bans the use of F-gases in some new equipment, such as household fridges, where viable more climate-friendly alternatives are readily available.
F-gases are commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning, as well as in electrical equipment, insulation foams, aerosol sprays and fire extinguishers. They leak into the atmosphere from production plants, from appliances they are used in, and when such appliances are thrown away.
Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, said: “I am proud to present this new initiative just when we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol. By limiting the amount of f-gases that can be sold in the EU, this new legislation will benefit the climate and create great business opportunities. Our existing legislation has successfully broken a growing trend in emissions and driven technological innovation. Now that more climate-friendly products can be made, we go one step further in reducing emissions from f-gases cost-effectively”
Today’s proposal introduces a phase-down measure that from 2015 limits the total amount of the most significant group of F-gases – Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – that can be sold in the EU and reduces this in steps to one fifth of today’s sales by 2030. This measure will build on the successful phasing out of ozone-depleting substances which was achieved in the EU 10 years ahead of the schedule agreed internationally.
The EU supports global action on HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. The proposed measure anticipates and facilitates agreement on a global phase-down of consumption and production of HFCs which is to be discussed at the 24th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol later this month. Also it reinforces the call at the climate change conference under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha later this month for urgent actions on HFCs from other countries to close the gap between the necessary emission reductions by 2020 and currently envisaged mitigation actions.
With the right legal framework in place, EU consumers and commercial users of equipment can drive the change and spur technological development in all sectors that use F-gases today. This will lead to increased market shares for those companies seizing the opportunity to develop climate-friendly products and equipment. Recent studies show that a number of alternatives exist that are technically sound, safe to use, cost-efficient and can lead to energy savings.
The proposal will replace the existing Regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases which requires companies to take a range of measures to reduce leaks from equipment containing F-gases and to recover the gases at the end of the equipment’s lifetime. The current Regulation also established requirements on training and certification for personnel involved in servicing equipment, labelling of F-gas equipment, reporting on production, imports and exports of F-gases as well as some bans in a few specific areas. All of these requirements are maintained and/or strengthened in the new proposal.
The proposal will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for discussion and adoption under the ordinary legislative procedure.
The European Commission’s low-carbon roadmap lays out a cost-efficient way to achieve the necessary reduction in emissions required under a global effort to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In order to achieve this objective, all sectors and greenhouse gases must contribute.
The roadmap envisages a reduction of emissions of over 70% by 2030 for the industrial sector that includes F-gases. The new proposal has been designed to achieve these savings, representing a cost-efficient contribution from the F-gas sector to the overall economic effort needed to avoid more costly consequences of climate change in the future.