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HFCs/F-Gases Reduction Regulation Proposed in Europe
Nov 12, 2012
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The European Commission presented a proposal to significantly reduce European Union emissions of fluorinated gases (F-gases), which are commonly used in refrigeration and air-conditioning. The EC said emissions of F-gases, with global warming potential up to 23,000 times higher than carbon dioxide, have risen by 60% since 1990 while all other greenhouse gases have been reduced.

The EC sees F-gases emissions reductions an important step toward long-term climate objectives.

The proposed revision of the European F-gas Regulation aims to reduce F-gas emissions by two-thirds of today's levels by 2030. It also bans the use of F-gases in some new equipment where viable more climate-friendly alternatives are readily available.

In addition to HVAC/R applications, F-gases are used in electrical equipment, insulation foams, aerosol sprays, and fire extinguishers. The EC note that the gases leak into the atmosphere from production plants, from appliances that are in-use, and from discarded appliances.

"I am proud to present this new initiative just when we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol," said Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action. "By limiting the amount of f-gases that can be sold in the EU, this new legislation will benefit the climate and create great business opportunities. Our existing legislation has successfully broken a growing trend in emissions and driven technological innovation. Now that more climate-friendly products can be made, we go one step further in reducing emissions from f-gases cost-effectively."

The November 2012 proposal introduces a phase-down measure that, starting in 2015, limits the total amount of the most significant group of F-gases - hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - that can be sold in the EU. HFC sales will be increasingly restricted until they are reduced to one-fifth of today's sales by 2030.

The measure is seen as building on the successful phasing-out of ozone-depleting substances, which was achieved in the EU 10 years ahead of the schedule agreed internationally.

The proposed measure anticipates and facilitates agreement on a global phase-down of consumption and production of HFCs, to be discussed at the annual meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, Nov. 11-16, 2012, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ahead of the UN climate change conference in Doha later in November 2012, it also reinforces the call for urgent action on HFCs from other countries in order to close the gap between current emission reduction pledges for 2020 and the more ambitious action needed to keep the goal of holding global warming below 2*C within reach.

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