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) in the European Union. 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 revision of the F-gas 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 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 proposed measure anticipates and facilitates agreement on a global phase-down of consumption and production of HFCs which is to be discussed at the annual meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol next week. Ahead of the UN climate change conference in Doha later this month, it also reinforces the call for urgent action on HFCs from other countries in order to close the gap between current emission reduction pledges for 2020 and the more ambitious action needed to keep the goal of holding global warming below 2°C within reach.