EU phasedown on track as fluorinated greenhouse gas use falls

The production, import and export of fluorinated gases (F-gases) fell in the European Union last year, according to a new report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) today. F-gases are mainly used in cooling and heating equipment. Since they have a high global warming potential, phasing down HFCs is critical to global efforts to fight climate change.

Large reductions in F-gas use and emissions are expected from a new phase-down measure put in place by the 2014 F-gas Regulation, which will progressively cap the supply of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to the EU market. Reducing the use of these gases in products and equipment in addition to preventing losses from equipment will ensure emissions decline. In 2015, companies stayed well within the prescribed limits of the phase-down quota system.

HFCs are the most commonly used F-gases. They were introduced in the past mainly to replace chemicals that were found to be harming the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol on ozone depleting substances was amended this year to also regulate HFCs. Both developed and developing countries have agreed on mandatory commitments to reduce production and consumption of HFCs over the next three decades. The ambitious measures put in place through the F-gas Regulation will ensure the EU meets its global commitments.

Key findings based on reporting by companies in the EU in 2015:

  • Production of F-gases in the EU declined by 5 % (as CO2-eq) in 2015.
  • F-gas imports to the EU decreased by about 40 %, compared with the exceptionally high amounts reported in 2014 (both by weight and as CO2-eq).
  • EU exports of F-gases decreased by 2 % (by weight) or 1 % (CO2-eq) compared with 2014. However, compared with 2013, exports in 2015 increased by 18 % (by weight) and 23 % (CO2-eq).
  • Supply of F-gases in the EU decreased by about 24 % (by weight and as CO2-eq) since 2014.