The European Union’s F-gas Regulation became law this week when it was published in the Official Journal of the European Union, replacing an older, ineffective version with several new and ambitious measures.
The new law, which controls the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases throughout the EU, will reduce emissions of F-gases by two-thirds of current levels by 2030.
F-gases are super greenhouse gases many hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2). The EU is the first major political structure to take such ambitious action to get them under control.
The science and acronyms can be a little off-putting, so EIA has assisted in the production of this short film explaining F-gases:
The European Commission estimates cumulative emissions savings from the F-gas Regulation will be 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent by 2030 and five billion tonnes by 2050 – this latter figure representing more than the emissions from one billion return flights between Paris and New York.
The F-gas Regulation will achieve this through a combination of a phase-down of bulk quantities of F-gases, mainly hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), sold on the EU market, and by effectively banning the use of equipment containing HFCs in specific sectors, including most commercial refrigeration and air-conditioning. There will also be a ban on servicing and maintaining refrigeration equipment with HFCs which have a Global Warming Potential higher than 2,500 (ie, more than 2,500 times as potent as CO2) as of 2020.
Now the law is on the books, the focus will shift to making it operational. This will be a huge challenge – it’s not enough to just have a good piece of legislation, the real key to its success lies in effective implementation and enforcement.
One of the biggest priorities in the immediate term will be putting the word out to ensure industry and end-users are aware of their obligations. EIA’s climate team will be working to that end in the months ahead.
Of course, the real prize in terms of climate mitigation lies in reaching a global deal to phase out HFCs. EIA is hopeful that the EU F-gas Regulation will help demonstrate that Europe is willing to play its part, as well as opening up new opportunities for the development of climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs around the world.