The European Commission on 26 September 2011 launched a public consultation on strengthening EU measures to reduce emissions of fluorinated gases. Among manifold policy options considered analytical study attached to the consultation’s documents expressed little preference for the general inclusion of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorcarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) in the EU ETS.
Fluorinated gases are a group of industrial gases which are extremely powerful contributors to global warming. The greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol include three 'families' of fluorinated gases: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorcarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
As the European Commission points out in its press release (http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/f-gas/index_en.htm), F-gases have been increasingly used in a range of industrial applications including air conditioning (HFCs), refrigeration and fire extinguishers (HFCs and PFCs), electronics, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics production (PFCs), and magnesium and aluminium production and high-voltage switches (SF6).
In 2006 two separate legislative acts were adopted with the aim of reversing this trend in order to help the EU and Member States meet their Kyoto Protocol emissions targets.
- Directive 2006/EC/40 ("MAC Directive") targets mobile air conditioning, prohibiting use of F-gases with high global warming potentials from 2011.
- Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 ("F-gas Regulation") covers certain F-gases in all other applications, focusing on the key stationary applications such as refrigeration and air conditioning. It aims to prevent leaks from equipment containing those gases. Contrary to the MAC Directive, the Regulation includes only a few restrictions on the use of F-gases.
An important attachment to the consultation document poses ‘Preparatory study for a review of Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases’, authors: Dr. Winfried Schwarz, Barbara Gschrey, Dr. André Leisewitz (Öko-Recherche GmbH) Anke Herold, Sabine Gores (Öko-Institut e.V.) Irene Papst, Jürgen Usinger, Dietram Oppelt, Igor Croiset (HEAT International GmbH) Per Henrik Pedersen (Danish Technological Institute) Dr. Daniel Colbourne (Re-phridge) Prof. Dr. Michael Kauffeld (Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences) Kristina Kaar (Estonian Environmental Research Centre) Anders Lindborg (Ammonia Partnership).
The main policy options and sub-options for the treatment of fluorinated gases considered in the said analytical study include:
Option A Business-as-usual (do nothing).
Option B Suspend provisions of the F-Gas Regulation. This option was discarded from
further analysis because such approach would clearly not be in line with the EU’s overall
Option C Non-regulatory approaches.
C-1: Environmental agreements and self-regulation.
C-2: Improved coordination.
C-3: Enhanced technical standards
Option D Further regulatory action (includes several sub-options addressing particular
sectors, types of measures and/or types of F-gas emissions).
D-1: Include F-gases currently not covered in annex I of the F-gas Regulation.
D-2: Enhance application and monitoring of the Regulation.
D-3: Improve containment and recovery in certain sectors.
D-4: Ban the use or the placing on the market of open F-gas applications.
D-5: Ban the placing on the market of certain closed applications containing F-gases, where energy efficient and safe alternatives are available. This option considers potential bans for different closed applications of F-gases starting in the period 2015-2030.
D-6: Set quantitative limits for the placing on the market of F-gases in the EU-27. This option is based on stepwise limits to HFC supply, thereby drives the introduction of alternative technologies and hence reduces F-gas emissions.
D-7: Development and dissemination of BAT and BREF notes and documents.
D-8: Obligation to destroy HFC-23 by-product emissions from halocarbon production.