Today’s deal on the F-Gas Regulation marks one of the greatest climate wins of von der Leyen’s Commission. The proposed phase-out schedule for these potent greenhouse gases signals a paradigm shift, driving key sectors such as heat pumps and air conditioning towards the use of climate-friendly refrigerants.
The EU makes history with the revision of the F-gas regulation. The interinstitutional agreement reached today paves the way for Europe to become the world’s first HFC-free continent by 2050, setting an unprecedented environmental and climate standard on a global scale.
Nearly 2.5% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the entire EU aviation sector, will be cut by 2050 thanks to the complete phase-out of fluorinated gases (F-gases). The proposed ban timeline will play a crucial role in promoting the adoption of climate-friendly refrigerants across burgeoning and strategic sectors, such as heat pumps, air conditioning and switchgears (key components for electricity grids). This transition also encompasses other sectors such as foams, domestic refrigeration, chillers and medical aerosols.
Davide Sabbadin, Deputy Policy Manager for Climate at the EEB, said:
“Today’s win is a triple win. Firstly it is a win for the climate, due to F-gases’ significant contribution towards greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. It is also a win for our health and environment, as F-gases are the primary source of dangerous PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ emissions in Europe. Finally, this is a win for Europe’s green industry, which is home to the production of climate-friendly alternatives to F-gases: natural refrigerants.“
Forever chemical pollution
The most recent F-gas family known as HFOs release PFAS, the so-called forever chemicals, into the atmosphere. Thanks to the new F-gas trajectory, HFOs will be banned in the next decade in all major applications, making this revision a breakthrough moment to prevent chemical pollution that harms and stays forever. Large quantities of PFAS will not be released into the atmosphere thanks to this legislation and will not be accumulating in rivers and lakes. This revision sets the stage for the REACH reform, a critical regulation that can no longer be postponed.
Climate global leadership
It will now be the job of the new Commission to make this EU-led revolution a global one, by promoting this same ambition in the context of the Montreal Protocol*, the international framework that deals with refrigerants and that has already been improved once upon the first release of the Fgas regulation via the Kigali amendment*.
This deal also brings positive tidings for the European industry. Europe stands at the forefront of climate-friendly and environmentally sound technologies in these domains, and it stands to benefit from a more robust push within the domestic market. The industry is actively seeking opportunities to strengthen its global leadership position.
When f-gases burst onto the market, they did it to replace their ozone-depleting predecessor substances which were banned by the Montreal Protocol in 1985. While f-gases can provide cooling without damaging the ozone layer, they still warm the atmosphere.
To continue protecting the ozone layer without aggravating the climate crisis, global leaders amended the Montreal Protocol in 2016 to include a phase-down of f-gases. Named after the city in which it was signed, Kigali (Rwanda), the new treaty agreed to an 80% f-gas reduction over 30 years.