European Commission, Environment DG

Economic Evaluation of Emission Reductions of HFCs, PFCs and SF6 in Europe

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Courtesy of Courtesy of European Commission, Environment DG


The Kyoto Protocol under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regulates emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) are chemically related anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Because of their depleting effect on stratospheric ozone CFCs and HCFCs have been regulated under the Montreal Protocol since the late 1980’s and were thus not included into the Kyoto Protocol. The whole group of fluorinated greenhouse gases (CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, PFCs and SF6) contributed about 25% of the added anthropogenic radiative forcing of the climate between 1980 and 1990 [IPCC, 1990]. The main contribution came from CFCs and HCFCs. It should be kept in mind that part of their direct warming effect is compensated by the indirect cooling effect due to their depleting effect on stratospheric ozone. The absolute relevance of the remaining fluorinated compounds (HFCs, PFCs, and SF6) was limited to less than 1% of the added direct anthropogenic radiative effect during the same period. When the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated it was anticipated that emissions of HFCs, PFCs and SF6 could contribute to global warming on a level comparable to CFCs and HCFCs. This notion was corroborated by rapidly increasing accumulation rates observed in the atmosphere. The extraordinary atmospheric stability of PFCs, SF6 and some HFCs was an additional reason to restrict their emission [Cook, 1995]. Despite their limited present and near future relevance to global warming, is has been shown that the abatement of emissions of HFCs, PFCs and SF6 can significantly reduce the total costs of compliance with the Kyoto Protocol [Reilly et al., 1999]. The same authors also demonstrated that a failure to control these emissions could be expensive if emissions increases have to be compensated by additional emission reductions from fossil fuels.

The main aim of this work is to provide a focussed analysis of the main sources and respective abatement options of emissions of HFCs, PFCs and SF6 within the countries of the European Union. The study is complementary to the national activities to estimate emissions on a national level as for the second and upcoming third national communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The report is not intended to be a check of such national data. The study consciously ignores the available national emission data in order to apply a simple and uniform methodology. The study aims to provide reasonable estimates of base year emissions in 1990 and 1995 on a country-by-country level, to derive a well-defined business as usual scenario for future emissions until 2010 and to identify and economically evaluate relevant abatement measures. It is the guiding principle of this study to clearly point out assumptions, to document how calculations were carried out and openly discuss uncertainties of results. We are not trying to duplicate the efforts of other comprehensive reports that give an overview over the multitude of minor and major sources [e.g. Novem/Ecofys, 1997; Pedersen, 1998; March, 1998; Ecofys, 1999]. Instead it is intended to provide a concise review of the main sources and key abatement options of the fluorinated greenhouse gases. The results of this study will be an input into the main study “Economic Evaluation of Sectoral Emission Reduction Objectives for Climate Change” in which least cost solutions to reduce European greenhouse gas emissions will be numerically identified across economic sectors.

Emission estimates and projections in this study are made by using an abstracted bottom-up approach. While still close enough to the physical reality of emitting processes, this method remains simple enough not to obscure its results behind an excess of technical data and assumptions. As more knowledge about emissions of HFCs, PFCs and SF6 accumulates it will become possible to step back and carry out true bottom-up analyses for each of the EU countries. The efforts currently undertaken for the third national communications of the parties of the Kyoto Protocol will certainly substantially increase the available knowledge on sources of emissions of these gases. The monitoring mechanism of Community CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions (Council Decision 1999/296/EC) is likely to significantly increase the impetus towards precise and transparent reporting and projection of emissions.

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