The European Union Council and Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on phasing down substances that cause global warming and deplete the ozone layer.
This provisional agreement finalises negotiations on fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) and confirms an informal agreement reached in June on ozone-depleting substances (ODSs).
While existing EU legislation has already limited the use of F-gases significantly, the new rules would further reduce their emission into the atmosphere and contribute to limiting the global temperature increase, in line with the Paris Agreement.
According to the provisional agreement, the consumption of hydrofluorocarbons(HFCs) will be completely phased out by 2050, and the production of HFCs, in terms of production rights allocated by the Commission, will be phased down to a minimum (15 per cent) as of 2036.
The feasibility of the phase-out of the consumption of HFCs and the need for HFCs in sectors where they are still used will be reviewed in 2040, taking into account technological developments and the availability of alternatives to HFCs for the relevant applications.
The text introduces a full ban on placing several categories of products and equipment containing HFCs on the market, including certain domestic refrigerators, chillers, foams and aerosols.
It brings forward some deadlines for the ban and extends it to products that use F-gases with a lesser global warming potential (GWP). Exemptions from the ban are provided for if there are safety concerns.
The provisional agreement introduces a full ban on small (<12kW) monobloc heat pumps and air conditioning that contain F-gases with a GWP of at least 150 starting in 2027, and a complete phase-out in 2032.
With regard to split air conditioning and heat pumps containing F-gases, the co-legislators agreed on a full ban starting in 2035, with earlier deadlines for certain types of split systems with higher global warming potential.
The text also lays down a new full ban on medium voltage switchgears relying on F-gases, with a gradual phase-out by 2030, and a ban on high voltage switchgears by 2032. It introduces a cascading principle that allows for potential derogations from the bans depending on the bidding process for F-gas-free alternatives.
It includes a possibility for high voltage switchgear to use the very potent greenhouse gas SF6 as a last resort under the cascading principle and adds a number of safeguards in order to avoid the bans endangering the functioning of the electrical grids.
The provisional agreement introduces a ban on some equipment needed to repair and service existing equipment.
From 2025, servicing equipment for refrigeration equipment that uses F-gases with high global warming potential will be banned unless the gases are reclaimed or recycled, in which case they benefit from a derogation until 2030.
A similar ban is introduced for servicing equipment for air conditioning and heat pump equipment for 2026, with a derogation for reclaimed or recycled gases until 2032.
A servicing ban on stationary refrigeration equipment designed to cool products to temperatures below -50 °C using F-gases with lower global warming potential will be applied in 2032, with a permanent derogation where recycled or reclaimed gases are used.
The provisional agreement confirmed that ODSs are prohibited in almost all cases, with only strictly limited exemptions.
The provisional agreement extends the requirement to recover ODSs for destruction, recycling or reclamation. The requirement will cover refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment, equipment containing solvents, fire protection systems and fire extinguishers and other equipment if technically and economically feasible.
The text also extends to all ODSs the requirement on undertakings to take precautions to prevent and minimise the unintentional release of ODSs and to ensure that any leakage detected is repaired without undue delay.
Both provisional agreements will now be submitted to the member states representatives within the Council and to the Parliament’s environment committee for endorsement.