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 EU is 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 and more than the sum of all greenhouse gas emitted in the EU during one year.
The legislation also stimulates innovation and green growth and jobs by encouraging the use of green technologies based on less climate-harmful alternatives.
On 15 October 2016, the 28th Meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone layer adopted the Kigali Amendment to add HFCs to the list of controlled substances. The foreseen phase-down of HFCs could save around 80 Gigatonnes CO2 equivalents until 2050 and is a significant contribution to fight climate change.
All 197 Montreal Protocol parties agreed to take steps to gradually reduce the production and use of HFCs. The first reduction step to be taken by the EU and other developed countries is required in 2019, while most developing countries will start their phasedown in 2024.
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.