EU agrees to phase out f-gases

18th December 2013

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Ruth Eady

Refrigeration and air conditioning equipment containing high levels of fluorinated gases (f-gases) are to be banned from sale and a cap placed on the sale of HFCs

The EU council, parliament and commission have agreed new legislation that will phase out the use of f-gases in equipment such as fridges and freezers from 1 January 2015 and limit the amount of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that can be sold within the bloc.

The Regulation, which is expected to be formally adopted early next year, bans the sale of commercial fridges and freezers containing HFCs with a global warming potential (GWP) of 2,500 – a warming effect 2,500 times stronger than the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide – from 1 January 2020, and those with a GWP of 150 from 1 January 2022.Centralised refrigeration systems with a capacity of 40kW and a GWP of 150 will also be banned from 2022.

Meanwhile stationary air conditioning systems containing less than 3kg of f-gases, but have a GWP of 750 will not be able to be sold from 2025.

The regulation includes similar bans on movable air conditioning devises, foams containing HFCs, technical aerosols and domestic equipment.

It also introduces a gradually declining cap on the amount of HFCs that can be sold in Europe from 2016-17. Under the Regulation, by 2030 the amount of HFCs being traded across the bloc will fall to 21% of the amount sold in 2009-2012.

F-gases are manmade greenhouse gases that have replaced ozone-damaging chlorofluorocarbons in cooling equipment and aerosols. However, they have a global warming effect that is up to 23,000 times more powerful than CO2 and, since 1990, f-gas emissions in Europe have increased 60%.

According to EU policymakers the new regulation will see f-gas emission from the bloc fall by two-thirds on today’s figures by 2030.

“The EU work on the reduction of f-gas emissions is an important signal in the context of the upcoming international negotiations under the Montreal Protocol and the UNFCC,” commented Valentinas Mazuronis, environment minister in Lithuania, which currently holds the presidency of the EU council.

Agreement on the new f-gas Regulation came as the European commission outlined its latest plans to tackle air pollution across the bloc, including proposals to revise the National Emission Ceilings Directive lowering limits on the amount of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) that member states can emit.

The commission has also proposed introducing a new directive aimed at reducing air pollution from medium-sized combustion plants with a capacity of 1-50MW. The directive, which would affect small industrial energy plants, would aim place limits on NOx, SO2 and PM emissions from both new and existing plants and involve a registration scheme.

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