The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published new aggregated information on the production and trade of fluorinated gases – or F-gases – in the EU. Although emitted in relatively small quantities, the emissions of these gases are increasing, and many are several thousand times more powerful greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide (CO2).
In 2011, F-gases were used mostly for refrigeration
and air-conditioning purposes, as well as in electrical equipment and in the
production of foams and aerosols.
The new report, compiled by the EEA for the first
time in cooperation with the European Commission, presents a summary of the
latest data reported under the 'F-Gas Regulation' (No 842/2006) by 120
individual companies that have produced, sold, imported or exported
F-gases in the European Union (EU).
The F-Gas Regulation is one of the main legal instruments
with which the EU aims to reduce F-gas emissions by requiring companies to take
a range of measures to reduce leaks from equipment containing F-gases and to
recover the gases at the end of the equipment's lifetime. Companies are also
required to avoid using F-gases for some applications where environmentally
superior alternatives are cost-effective.
F-gases are important because they contributed
2 % of total EU-27 GHG emissions in 2010, measured in terms of
CO2-equivalent. Moreover, according to the latest
official EU greenhouse gas emissions data, their contribution has been
steadily growing since 1990.
"Innovation is a key part of tackling climate
change and for certain applications, viable alternatives to F-gases already
exist," EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said. "This makes
them an ideal candidate to replace with less harmful alternatives, in order to
limit the growth of emissions".
Any company producing, importing or exporting more
than one tonne of F-gases is required to report data to the European
The European Commission is presently investigating
further possible options for strengthening EU measures to reduce emissions of
fluorinated gases and intends to present a new legal proposal this autumn.
fluorinated greenhouse gases
Three groups of fluorinated greenhouse gases (the
so-called 'F-gases') are covered by EU legislation and the UNFCCC Kyoto
Protocol: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and SF6.
These F-gases have chemical properties which make them useful in different
types of products and applications, mainly as substitutes of ozone-depleting
substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
and halons which are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol. The gases
are used in a range of applications including refrigeration and air
conditioning equipment, for manufacturing electronic goods including
semiconductors, and in certain aerosols, foams and fire extinguishing systems.
While F-gases do not deplete the ozone layer, they
are powerful greenhouse gases typically with long lifetimes in the atmosphere.
Their GWP – the measure indicating the effectiveness of a substance to absorb
thermal infrared radiation relative to carbon dioxide (and thus their
contribution to climate change) – can be thousands of times higher than that of
18 September, 2012.