Fluorinated gases (‘F-gases’) are a family of man-made gases used in a range of industrial applications. Because they do not damage the atmospheric ozone layer, they are often used as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances. However, F-gases are powerful greenhouse gases, with a global warming effect up to 23 000 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2), and their emissions are rising strongly.
The European Union is therefore taking regulatory action to control F-gases as part of its policy to combat climate change.
A first F-gas Regulation was adopted in 2006 and succeeded in stabilising EU F-gas emissions at 2010 levels.
A new Regulation, which replaces the first and applies from 1 January 2015, strengthens the existing measures and introduces a number of far-reaching changes. By 2030 it will cut the EU’s F-gas emissions by two-thirds compared with 2014 levels.
This represents a fair and cost-efficient contribution by the F-gas sector to the EU's objective of cutting its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% of 1990 levels by 2050.
The expected cumulative emission savings are 1.5 Gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent by 2030 and 5 Gigatonnes by 2050. The latter number is more than the CO2 produced by a billion return flights from Paris to New York.
The new legislation will stimulate innovation and green growth and jobs by encouraging the use of green technologies based on less climate-harmful alternatives.
Achieving a global solution curbing HFC emissions could save around 80 Gigatonnes CO2 equivalents until 2050. A global HFC phase-down would deliver a significant contribution to the fight against climate change.
The EU considers that global action on HFCs can best taken under the Montreal Protocol on the protection of the Ozone layer. To facilitate reaching a global consensus, the EU has in April 2015 submitted an amendment proposal to phase down the use of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.
F-gases are used in several types of products and appliances, mainly as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and halons which are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol and EU legislation.
The availability of climate-friendly alternatives to F-gases has been thoroughly assessed in studies carried out for the Commission and other bodies.