To control emissions from fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases), including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the European Union has adopted two legislative acts: the F-gas Regulation and the MAC Directive. The current F-gas Regulation, which applies since 1 January 2015, replaces the original F-gas Regulation adopted in 2006. The implementing Regulations of the original Regulation remain in force and continue to apply until new acts are adopted. The current Regulation strengthened the previous measures and introduced far-reaching changes by:
- Limiting the total amount of the most important F-gases that can be sold in the EU from 2015 onwards and phasing them down in steps to one-fifth of 2014 sales in 2030. This will be the main driver of the move towards more climate-friendly technologies;
- Banning the use of F-gases in many new types of equipment where less harmful alternatives are widely available, such as fridges in homes or supermarkets, air conditioning and foams and aerosols;
- Preventing emissions of F-gases from existing equipment by requiring checks, proper servicing and recovery of the gases at the end of the equipment’s life.
These measures were built on the successful phase-out of ozone-depleting substances, which was achieved in the EU 10 years ahead of the internationally agreed schedule. Thanks to the F-gas Regulation, the EU’s F-gas emissions will be cut by two-thirds by 2030 compared with 2014 levels. Given that climate friendly alternatives are available for many of the products and equipment in which F-gases are commonly used, this ambitious reduction is achievable at relatively low cost. It also offers opportunities of driving innovation in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector. While confirming the EU’s position as a global leader in taking strong measures on F-gases, this legislation is also meant to inspire others to take action. In addition, tackling HFC emissions is a priority of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), of which the Commission is a member. Similarly, the G20 countries have recognized the need to act on HFCs.
The MAC Directive prohibits the use of F-gases with a global warming potential of more than 150 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2) in new types of cars and vans introduced from 2011, and in all new cars and vans produced from 2017. Its mission is to provide advice and expertise to the Commission in relation to the implementation of the F-gas Regulation, in particular with regard to the availability of alternatives to fluorinated greenhouse gases, including the environmental, technical, economic and safety aspects of their use.