To control emissions from fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases), including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the European Union has adopted two legislative acts: the ’MAC Directive’ on air conditioning systems used in small motor vehicles, and the ‘F-gas Regulation’ which covers all other key applications in which F-gases are used.
The MAC Directive prohibits the use of F-gases with a global warming potential of more than 150 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2) in new types of cars and vans introduced from 2011, and in all new cars and vans produced from 2017.
The F-gas Regulation follows two tracks of action:
The original F-gas Regulation, adopted in 2006, is being replaced by a new Regulation adopted in 2014 which applies from 1 January 2015. This strengthens the existing measures and introduces a number of far-reaching changes by:
These measures will build on and benefit from the successful phase-out of ozone-depleting substances which was achieved in the EU 10 years ahead of the internationally agreed schedule.
Thanks to the new F-gas Regulation, the EU’s F-gas emissions will be cut by two-thirds by 2030 compared with 2014 levels. Though ambitious, this reduction is achievable at relatively low cost because climate friendly alternatives are readily available for many of the products and equipment in which F-gases are commonly used today.
While the new Regulation repeals the original Regulation from 2006, the 10 implementing Regulations adopted under the original Regulation remain in force and continue to apply until new acts are adopted.
The Commission has prepared guidance documents outlining the new obligations for users and technicians of refrigeration, air conditioning and heatpumps as well as an FAQ document for companies reporting on F-gases under the new regulation (EU No 517/2014).
As the thresholds for obligations in the new Regulation are given in CO2 equivalents, a calculation tool is being made available to translate tonnes CO2 equivalents into metric tonnes.
The EU Member States are responsible for implementing Regulation (EU) No 517/2014. For clarfication and enforcement issues, please get in touch with the relevant contact in your Member State.
The new Regulation anticipates a global phase-down of the consumption and production of HFCs on the basis of proposals currently being discussed under the Montreal Protocol on protecting the ozone layer.
The Regulation will also affect other markets, in particular countries exporting to the EU. Through increased demand for climate-friendly technologies, the new Regulation creates new business opportunities and will accelerate innovation and economies of scale in producing such technologies, thus lowering their costs. In this way, the Regulation helps to promote consensus on a broader international agreement.
While confirming the EU's position as a global leader in taking strong measures on F-gases, the new legislation is also meant to inspire others to take action. A number of countries are already developing similar approaches.
In addition, tackling HFC emissions is a priority of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), of which the Commission is a member. Similarly, the G20 countries have recognised the need to act on HFCs.
A Consultation Forum is mandated by the F-gas Regulation.
Its mission is to provide advice and expertise to the Commission in relation to the implementation of the F-gas Regulation, in particular with regard to the availability of alternatives to fluorinated greenhouse gases, including the environmental, technical, economic and safety aspects of their use.
This Forum consists of experts from national authorities, transnational industry associations, NGOs and international organisations. Representatives of single companies or associations of a single country are not invited to the group. Additional experts may be invited on an ad hoc basis according to the topics to be discussed at the relevant meeting.
The Forum is established as a permanent expert group of the European Commission. More information can be found in the official register of Commission Expert Groups.
The Commission will call a meeting when technical input from stakeholders is required for the implementation of the F-gas Regulation.
To ensure a smooth transition from the old regime to the new regime, Commission Regulations (EC) 1497/2007, (EC) No 1516/2007, (EC) No 304/2008, (EC) No 306/2008 and (EC) No 307/2008 remain in force and continue to apply unless and until repealed by delegated or implementing acts adopted by the Commission pursuant to the 2014 F-gas Regulation.