Climate Action

EU proposes global phase-down of HFCs under Montreal Protocol

Rooftop packaged air-conditioning and heating unit © Public Domain (P199)

The European Commission, on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, today submitted a proposal to amend the Montreal Protocol on protecting the ozone layer.  

The proposed amendment aims to limit the global production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) − part of the family of fluorinated gases which are used in refrigeration and air-conditioning. These were introduced to replace certain ozone-depleting substances. Since HFCs are harmful climate warming gases, the proposal contributes to international efforts to fight climate change.

Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said:

"Today's proposal is timely, ambitious and realistic for all Parties to the Montreal Protocol. We owe it to future generations to agree on a global HFC phase-down without delay. This would send an important signal ahead of the international climate negotiations in Paris later this year where we will adopt a new deal that will steer the world towards a more sustainable pathway."

The EU and its Member States have been long-time supporters of proposals for the global phase-down of HFCs. Under the proposed amendment, industrialised countries, as major users of HFCs, are called on to take the lead by committing to an ambitious phase-down schedule beginning in 2019 and ending in 2034. Obligations for developing countries and economies in transition would be more flexible, initially capping the climate impact of the sectors concerned and agreeing on a phase-down schedule by 2020.

Global cumulative benefits would amount to a reduction of an equivalent to 79 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 by 2050 and 127 Gt CO2eq over 40 years.

The EU has already begun phasing down the use of HFCs in the EU. The preparation and discussions leading to the adoption of the EU's ambitious Regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases in 2014 have shown that an HFC phase-down is a viable and very efficient policy option.