European Parliament’s ENVI Committee agrees to phase out HFC super greenhouse gases

Today the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted to significantly strengthen the EU’s world-leading climate legislation related to fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases).

Europe’s F-Gas Regulation governs the use of climate-changing fluorinated gases, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are many hundreds or thousands of times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide and are used widely in refrigeration and air-conditioning and other products.

The ENVI Committee proposes to ban fluorinated gases in new equipment in most sectors before the end of the decade, stimulating a swift transition to natural refrigerants, with significant benefits for the climate as well as for European manufacturers, who are leaders in the manufacture of these technologies, especially heat pumps.

EIA Climate Campaign Leader Clare Perry said: “Timely bans are the cornerstone of the F-Gas Regulation, allowing manufacturers certainty over product development and helping end users avoid costly investment in soon-to-be-obsolete technologies. These bans are urgently needed, given we are in the critical decade of climate action with just a few years to peak and then drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming to 1.5°C.”

Contrary to rhetoric from unprogressive industry alliances dominated by multinational companies seeking to profit from prolonged use of HFCs, the ENVI Committee proposes several measures to ensure compatibility with increased heat-pump deployment under the bloc’s REPowerEU Plan. These include additional time for implementing bans, allowing the European Commission flexibility to respond to any unforeseen market disruptions and financial support toward deployment of heat pumps relying on natural refrigerants and training of installers.

Other important measures adopted by the ENVI Committee include:

  • progressive price increases for HFC quotas during the HFC phase-out
  • ensuring a steady revenue stream
  • mandatory extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes
  • measures to combat illegal trade
  • measures to reduce SF6 emissions and use in switchgear
  • export bans on certain HFC-based equipment to non-EU countries.

EIA Senior Lawyer & Policy Advisor Tim Grabiel added: “The ENVI Committee report represents the first known initiative by a major legislative committee to phase out HFCs, most of which are not only super greenhouse gases but per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), toxic substances also referred to as ‘forever chemicals’.

“The vote continues a long history of European leadership on F-gases and should be supported by the full European Parliament as a win-win for the climate and European businesses.”

The ENVI Committee report, supported by political groups across the spectrum, now goes to the European Parliament for adoption before trialogue negotiations with the Council.

The final vote today was 84 in favour and eight against, with seven abstentions.