Man-made hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases were introduced in fridges and other cooling appliances to replace CFC gases, which were harmful to the ozone layer. But HFCs warm up the atmosphere – and much more so than carbon dioxide (CO2). Fluorinated gases, or F-gases, a group of gases HFCs are part of, have a global warming effect up to 23 000 times greater than CO2, and their emissions are rising quickly.
To cut emissions from HFCs and other harmful F-gases such as sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), ECOS – an environmental NGO – is calling for a radical phase-out of these gases in the upcoming F-Gas Regulation, for which a proposal is expected from the Commission in 2021.
The current F-Gas Regulation requires further significant improvements to safeguard our climate and to follow the ambition of the European Green Deal.
HFCs are used in refrigerators, air-conditioners, all products containing heat pumps, in construction products such as foams and in fire extinguishers and aerosols. On the other hand, SF6 is the most potent greenhouse gas on the planet used in the electricity sector.
Together with other environmental NGOs, ECOS has put forward a number of ideas for improving the F-Gas Regulation as part of its response to an EU public consultation. ECOS is calling for measures to:
- Promote compliance with the F-Gas Regulation with an acceleration of the HFC phase-down schedule, by adjusting its penultimate step in 2027 to 10% and the final step in 2030 to 5%;
- Strengthen the ambition and facilitate the adoption of HFC-free alternatives, including an update of antiquated standards to allow for the introduction of safe and energy-efficient natural refrigerant technologies, as well as mandatory training on alternative refrigerants as part of certification programmes and the promotion of incentive schemes and public procurement;
- Ban and contain SF6-based switchgear. SF6 is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, yet its growth and use continues virtually unabated. The EU should ensure all SF6 usage is reported to enable accurate emission profiling and adopt immediate bans for new switchgear containing SF6as well as rules for end-of-life treatment.