The European Union’s regulator proposed today tighter rules to cut fluorinated greenhouse gases in order to put the bloc on track to reach its long-term pollution-reduction targets.
The European Commission’s proposal to revise the existing regulation on so-called F-gases aims to cut their emissions by two-thirds by 2030 from the current level. It also seeks to prohibit their use in equipment including household refrigerators to spur the development of more climate-friendly alternatives.
“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,” EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a statement in Brussels.
The EU regulation already in place would lead to the stabilization of fluorinated gas emissions at current levels and is not enough to reach the bloc’s political goal to cut pollution by 80 to 95 percent by 2050, according to the commission. F-gases are used mainly as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances and their global warming potential is as much as 23,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
“Our existing legislation has successfully broken a growing trend in emissions and driven technological innovation,” Hedegaard said. “Now that more climate-friendly products can be made, we go one step further in reducing emissions from F-gases cost-effectively.”
F-gases, which account for two percent of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, include hydrofluorocarbons, used in refrigeration and air-conditioning, perfluorocarbons used typically in the electronics sectors and in the cosmetic industry and sulfur hexafluoride, used as an insulation gas.
Discharges of these substances in the EU have risen by 60 percent since 1990 while all other greenhouse gases have been cut, according to the commission. F-gases leak into the atmosphere from production plants and during the disposal of products and appliances containing them.
The draft regulation proposed today seeks to gradually limit from 2015 hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, to one-fifth of current sales in the EU by 2030, the commission said. The proposal needs to be approved by the bloc’s member states and the European Parliament to come into force.
“Producers and importers will initially be allocated rights to place HFCs on the market according to their existing market shares, with reserve allocations for new companies entering the market,” according to the commission. “These market rights will then decrease in three-year steps until 2030.”
The EU will also urge global action to reduce HFCs at the next United Nations’ climate summit due to start on Nov. 26 in Doha. The commission said cutting F-gases would help close the gap between global pollution cuts pledged so far and emission reductions necessary by 2020 to keep the world on track to contain the growth of temperatures to 2 degree Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.
The 27-nation EU already banned last year the use from 2013 in its emissions trading program of credits linked to HFCs generated under the UN carbon market.