EU F-Gas Regulation

Climate

Fluorinated gases, or F-gases, are a range of greenhouse gases widely used in refrigeration and air-conditioning, most notably hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). They are governed in the European Union by the F-Gas Regulation, a mechanism seeking to phase them out in favour of climate-friendly refrigerants. We campaigned extensively against industry lobbying to ensure a robust and ambitious revision of the Regulation and are currently working for its swift, effective implementation.

The problem

The European Union’s F-Gas Regulation is the world’s strongest legislation controlling the use of HFCs.

Making the EU F-Gas Regulation a success is a key priority for European countries. It ensures compliance with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, supports international climate commitments on greenhouse gases and leads the global transition to climate-friendly HFC-free technologies.

The Regulation stipulates a stepwise decrease in HFC use of 79 per cent by 2030. It is currently at a critical juncture, with dramatic cuts in HFC supply in 2018 and 2021 and the need for key players in the refrigeration and air-conditioning sector to move rapidly out of HFCs.

The difference we’ve made

We were closely involved in the negotiations to review the original F-Gas Regulation. Despite stiff opposition and alarmist lobbying from vested interests in the chemicals and refrigeration and air-conditioning industry, an ambitious Regulation was adopted in 2014.

Although the HFC phase-down is the primary mechanism of the F-Gas Regulation, it is supported by a number of bans on new HFC-based equipment and products over the next seven years, including domestic refrigerators and freezers (2015), technical aerosols (2018), portable room air-conditioners (2020), commercial refrigerators and freezers (2020), large commercial refrigeration systems (2022) and single-split air-conditioning systems (2025).

We have long been urging industry and business to speed up the transition away from HFCs. Since 2008, we have conducted a series of unique supermarket surveys, Chilling Facts, which have encouraged supermarkets in the UK and Europe to move away from HFCs and adopt sustainable natural refrigerant technologies, in particular carbon dioxide.

Moving forward

Now the law is on the books, we are committed to the challenge of ensuring its swift and effective implementation and enforcement.

We are working with policy-makers, industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the ambition of the Regulation is maintained and to secure early adoption of sustainable, energy efficient HFC-free technologies in key sectors. We regularly produce technical and policy briefings, attend Commission-organised stakeholder meetings and speak at key policy and industry events.

One of the biggest priorities in the first few years of implementation has been to ensure that industry and end-users are aware of their obligations. To this end, we produced a comprehensive EU F-Gas Regulation Handbook in multiple languages and are working with partners across Europe to distribute it.

We are also focusing on ensuring that the ambition of the world’s leading HFC legislation is maintained after Brexit.

Our 7th Chilling Facts report highlighted the continued lack of awareness of the impact of the HFC phase-down among some European retailers, which are responsible for a large proportion of Europe’s HFC consumption.

We are calling on EU member states to provide additional support to companies struggling to move quickly away from HFCs. In March 2018, we and our partners outlined these steps in detail to the 3rd F-Gas Consultation Forum.  Steps that governments should be taking include: mandatory training on natural refrigerant technologies; support for the revision of standards to allow the safe use of flammable refrigerants; promotion of climate-friendly cooling technologies through government public procurement and financial incentives; consideration of additional or earlier sectoral bans in key sectors; and the adoption of an HFC licensing system to help tackle illegal trade in HFCs.

How you can help

If you are purchasing an air-conditioner or heat pump, ask your supplier for options that use refrigerants with a low global warming potential. You can also engage with your local supermarket and ask if it still uses HFCs and when it plans to phase them out altogether. We’ve already made a huge difference on this issue and you can help us to keep on pressing for the removal of F-gases from our environment.