Phase-down of fluorinated gases essential to reduce effect on climate
Fluorinated gases (F-gases) have been introduced as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances in many sectors, but they contribute significantly to climate change. The European Environment Agency (EEA) has today published a new report on their production, import and export, which contributes to tracking progress towards their phase-down.
The new report ‘Fluorinated greenhouse gases 2014’ shows the production, use, import, export and destruction of these substances in the European Union in 2014. F-gas emissions in the EU have grown by almost 60 % since 1990, and currently make up approximately 2.5 % of EU-28 overall greenhouse gas emissions (measured in 'CO2-equivalent' tonnes (CO2e) to be able to assess their effect on the climate).
F-gases were originally introduced to replace chemicals that were found to be harming the ozone layer. They are used in many different products, including refrigerators and air conditioning units.
European laws were recently revised and a new F-gas Regulation has been in force since 1 January 2015. This regulation, which includes a new quota system for the main type of F-gases (HFCs), aims to reduce F-gas emissions by two thirds of 2010 levels by 2030. Under the new legislation companies are obliged to report certain activities involving F-gases.
The overall 2014 trends, based on company reporting on fluorinated greenhouse gases, can be summarised as follows:
- EU production of fluorinated gases continued to decline for the fourth consecutive year since 2011. Production, measured in tonnes, experienced a year-on-year decline of 15 %, or 11 % in terms of CO2e;
- Bulk imports of fluorinated gases increased by 90 % compared to last year’s reporting (CO2e);
- The high increase in bulk imports is mostly due to a 95 % increase in HFC imports, resulting to a large extent in HFC stockpiling in the EU;
- 2014 was marked by a 61 % increase in amounts of HFC being placed on the market. This is most probably due to stockpiling in anticipation of the HFC-phase down and quota allocations for placing HFCs on the market from 2015 onwards;
- Bulk exports of HFCs continued to increase for the fifth year in a row. There was an increase of 22 % (tonnes), or 24% (CO2e) compared to 2013.