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EU Parliament approves HFC phase-out by 2050

It’s official: Europe will phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 2050.

In a historic vote on Tuesday, the European Parliament chose overwhelmingly to support rules that will ban HFCs by 2050 and encourage the adoption of environmentally friendly alternatives. The landslide vote saw 457 members of the European parliament (MEPs) support the phase-out, with 92 voting against and 32 abstentions. Fluorinated gases (F-gases) currently account for 2.5 per cent of the EU’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

“Putting an end to F-gases is crucial, not only because these gases are extremely harmful for the climate, but we are also providing clarity and investment certainty for industry,” Rapporteur Bas Eickhout says. “European companies are already at the forefront of developing clean alternatives to F-gases, so this law will be good for the climate and the European economy.”

The rules include provisions for containment, preventing and fixing leaks, recovery and destruction, certifying technicians, reducing F-gas production, quota allocations, imports and exports, collection and reporting emissions data, and the establishment of an “F-gas portal” to meet reporting obligations.

In an even more emphatic result, MEPs endorsed a deal to reduce emissions from ozone-depleting substances in building materials (especially insulation foams), with 538 MEPs voting in favour, 13 abstentions and only eight against.

The EU Parliament and Council now need to formally approve the measures before they will come into force.

Key phase-out dates

Below are some of the key phase-out dates, after which the listed products will be prohibited from sale in the EU:

  • January 1, 2025: refrigeration equipment that contains F-gases with a global warming potential (GWP) of more than 2,500
  • January 1, 2026: domestic refrigerators and freezers that contain any F-gases
  • January 1, 2030: refrigeration equipment that contains F-gases with a GWP of more than 150
  • January 1, 2032: plug-in, monoblock, and self-contained air conditioners and heat pumps that contain any F-gases
  • January 1, 2035: split-system air conditioners and heat pumps up to 12kW that use any F-gases

In each of these cases, the adopted text makes exceptions where products must adhere to existing safety requirements. Chillers operating below -50°C are also exempt.

The full 233-page text is available on the European Parliament website.

Do you think Australia needs to legislate a similar phase-out of fluorinated gases? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Alexandre Lallemand via Unsplash.

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