EU phasedown going strong – lowest use of HFCs since 2007

EU consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in 2016 was the lowest in terms of their global warming effect since reporting began in 2007, shows a new report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) today.

Last year’s consumption of HFCs – powerful fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) – was also already 14% below the EU’s obligation for 2019, under the Montreal Protocol’s Kigali Amendment.

The Kigali Amendment, agreed last year, modified the Montreal Protocol on reducing the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances, to add HFCs to the list of regulated substances.

According to the EEA report, the supply of F-gases in the EU, reflecting the actual use of F-gases by EU industries, decreased by 2% in CO2 equivalent last year while increasing in total volume. This indicates a move towards more climate-friendly gases – those with lower global warming potential.

Large reductions in HFC use and emissions in the EU are expected from a new phasedown measure put in place by the 2014 F-gas Regulation, which will progressively cap the supply of HFCs to the EU market through a quota system.

In 2016, EU-wide placing on the market of HFCs was 4% below the overall market quota limit for that year, proof of very good compliance with the quotas.

HFCs are commonly used F-gases, mostly employed in cooling equipment. They were introduced mainly to replace chemicals that were found to be harming the ozone layer, yet because they have a high global warming potential, phasing down their production and use is critical to global efforts to fight climate change.

Key findings of the EEA report (based on reporting by EU companies in 2016):

  • EU consumption of HFCs was the lowest since reporting started in 2007 (in CO2 equivalents)
  • Production of F-gases expressed as their combined global warming effect also decreased, by 2% compared to 2015.
  • While EU imports of all F-gases increased by 2% (CO2-eq), bulk HFC imports decreased by 4% (CO2-eq). Significantly higher imports were observed last year for very low global warming gases and nitrogen trifluoride (NF2).
  • The amounts of HFCs imported in pre-charged equipment rose strongly as importers of such equipment continue to register and report ahead of their obligation to reduce consumption under the quota system from 2017 onwards.