The recent endorsement marks an important step towards reaching the EU's 2030 climate goals and climate neutrality by 2050, as it will eliminate an additional 500 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions by 2050, which is comparable to the combined annual emissions of France and Belgium.
The new rules will eliminate the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the most common F-gases, by 2050. Under the new regulations, the existing quota levels have been significantly reduced, further limiting imports and production of HFCs year-on-year. By 2030 HFCs placed on the market in the EU will be phased down by 95% below 2015 levels, and will be completely phased out by mid-century.
The rules will also restrict the use of all F-gases in equipment where climate-friendly alternatives are available, such as heat pumps, switchgear for energy transmission or products used in the health sector.
New obligations will also reduce F-gas and ODS emissions from insulation foams in old buildings and those under renovation. These pioneering rules should serve as a positive example for our partners around the world and stimulate similar action on these gases in other countries.
To stimulate exports of climate-friendly equipment and ensure harmful products are not put on the global market, the new measures on F-gases will ensure that obsolete equipment using refrigerants with a high global warming potential may not be exported from the EU.
Today's agreement sends a clear signal to manufacturers of products that traditionally use F-gases to steer their investments towards climate-friendly alternatives wherever feasible. This will stimulate innovation and the development of clean technologies.
Prices are expected to go down as the market for climate-friendly equipment expands, and the new equipment will typically lead to more energy savings from higher energy efficiency over the products' lifetime.
New measures to better enforce these rules and monitor the market will facilitate customs and surveillance authorities to control imports and exports, and crack down on the illegal trade of gases and related equipment.
Wopke Hoekstra, Commissioner for Climate Action, said that "these new rules are the most ambitious in the world. They will avoid the use of planet-warming gases in products such as refrigeration, heat pumps, air conditioning equipment and aerosol sprays, making them more climate friendly."
"At the same time these rules will stimulate innovation and create new opportunities for EU industry, and citizens will benefit from the deployment of state-of-the-art technologies. The EU is also continuing its role as a leader in the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, and setting a positive example for partners around the world", he added.
F-gases and ODSs are highly potent, human-made greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming when released into the atmosphere, and often several thousand times stronger than carbon dioxide (CO2). ODSs also damage the ozone layer that protects the Earth against dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Both substance groups have traditionally been used in everyday applications such as refrigeration, air conditioning, insulation, fire protection, power lines and as aerosol propellants.
The Commission proposed two draft Regulations in April 2022 revising the rules on F-gases and ODSs to align these policies with the EU's climate objectives and with international rules under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Regulations were also adapted to improve implementation and enforcement of the rules.
The EU co-legislators reached a provisional agreement on 5 October 2023. The European Parliament approved both Regulations on 16 January 2024, and today's Council vote completes the legislative process. The Regulations will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal of the Union.