Fluorinated gases and ozone depleting substances: EU member states ready to talk to MEPs

Fluorinated gases and ozone depleting substances: EU member states ready to talk to MEPs

EU Member states have agreed on a mandate for the European Council presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament on two proposals for regulations that aim to phase down substances that cause greenhouse gas emissions and deplete the ozone layer. The proposals aim at limiting global temperature rise in line with the Paris Agreement.

The effects of fluorinated gases on global warming are up to several hundred thousand times stronger than CO2. Ozone depleting substances on the other hand create a hole in the ozone layer, which offers protection from cancer-causing UV rays. It’s now time to make them a thing of the past. We need all possible measures on our side to limit the global temperature rise, in line with our commitments under the Paris Agreement. This will give the right push for the economy to switch to more climate-friendly alternatives.

Romina Pourmokhtari, Swedish Minister for Climate and the Environment

While existing EU legislation has already limited the use of these gases significantly, the proposals discussed today will further reduce their emissions into the atmosphere.

Ozone depleting substances, or ODS, are still allowed in laboratories and chemical production and reclaimed (reprocessed) ODS can be used in specialised fire protection equipment like in airplanes.

Fluorinated greenhouse gases, or F-gases, are included in a wide range of products used in everyday life, such as fridges, air conditioning and medicines. They are also used in heat pumps and switchgear devices in electric power systems.

Ozone depleting substances

The proposal for a revised regulation would prevent ODS trapped into products, that date from when the substances were allowed, from being released into the atmosphere. The proposal includes in particular an explicit requirement to recover certain types of ODS foams from construction and demolition waste and destroy or reuse it.
The proposal also aims to remove obsolete quota and registration requirements and some obsolete exemptions to prohibitions, for more legal clarity and to avoid illegal trade. The proposal modernises the licensing system to realign with existing trade rules in the field of environment, that allow for automatic customs controls per shipment.

The negotiating mandate agreed by member states adheres to the principles of the proposal while bringing a few changes:

  • the Council agreed to reduce administrative burden by adapting the provisions on essential laboratory and analytical uses while maintaining the registration requirement to avoid an increase in fraudulent practice
  • the Council added clarifications like a time limit in the case of imports or exports of recovered, recycled or reclaimed halon for critical uses
  • the Council also included certain uses of halons essential to national security among the critical uses of halons
  • the Council made the provisions on penalties less prescriptive in order for them to better fit different national systems.

Fluorinated gases

The proposal for a revised regulation prolongs and tightens the quota system for the placing in the market of hydrofluorocarbons and introduces a new quota system for production. It introduces new restrictions for more types of equipment and products containing F-gases, strengthens provisions on the implementation and enforcement with penalties.

The negotiating mandate agreed by member states amends the proposal’s phase down schedule among other things:

  • the Council proposed to lower the HFCs quota allocation price from € 3 to € 2
  • the Council agreed to postpone a number of bans compared to the Commission’s proposal, mainly for heat pumps, in order to put the proposal more in line with the targets set under REPowerEU, and high voltage switchgear. The agreement also clarifies on what grounds possible exemptions can be given for safety reasons
  • the Council proposed to split the ban of certain split heat pumps into an earlier ban for air-to-water systems, for which alternatives are more widely available, and a later ban for air-to-air systems, where it’s more difficult to use alternatives. To balance this, more quotas for placing on the market of HFCs are introduced
  • the Council agreed to postpone the reduction of the use of HFCs in metered dose inhalers, or MDIs, to guarantee the safety of patients, and increase the number of quotas
  • in addition, the Council added a safety clause to enable the Commission to react, through delegated acts, to release a limited number of additional quotas if the proposed bans were to endanger the attainment of the heat pumps deployment target required under REPowerEU
  • the Council included bans on the use of the very potent greenhouse gas SF6, used in electrical switchgear, while adding a number of safeguards in order to avoid that these bans would endanger the functioning of the electric grids
  • the Council made the provisions on penalties less prescriptive in order for them to better fit different national systems


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