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Reduction in fluorinated greenhouse gases
The European Union (EU) is establishing regulations for the containment, use, recovery and destruction of certain fluorinated greenhouse gases. These rules accompany the provisions relating to the labelling of products and equipment containing these gases, to the notification of information, to prohibitions on commercialisation, as well as to the training and certification of personnel and enterprises.
The Regulation is aimed at reducing emissions of certain fluorinated gases (HFCs, PFCs and sulphur hexafluorides), to improve containment and monitoring of these gases and restrict their marketing and use.
HFCs are used as refrigerants, cleaning solvents and foam blowing agents. PFCs are used in semi-conductor manufacture, as cleaning solvents and as foam blowing agents. Sulphur hexafluorides are used in high-voltage switch gear and magnesium production. Emissions of these three gases are forecast to increase to around 98 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2010, representing 2 to 4 % of total projected greenhouse gas emissions for the period. These gases are extremely persistent in the atmosphere, which means that their effects last for a long time after their emission.
Confinement of fluorinated gases
In order to improve the confinement of fluorinated greenhouse gases, the Regulation states that:
- all persons responsible for emissions are required to take all measures that are technically and economically feasible to prevent and minimise leakages;
- refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat-pump equipment and fire protection systems must undergo least one leakage inspection a year (the frequency of inspections varies depending on the quantity of fluorinated gas contained in the equipment);
- the owners of refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat-pump equipment and fire protection systems containing 300 kilograms or more of fluorinated gas are required to install leak detection systems;
- the owners of refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat-pump equipment and fire protection systems containing 3 kilograms or more of fluorinated gas are required to maintain records, these records must indicate the quantity and type of gas.
The requirements applicable to checks for leakage are defined by the Commission.
Restrictions on marketing and use
The use of sulphur hexafluorides is prohibited:
- from 1 January 2008 for magnesium die-casting (except where the annual consumption of the gas is below 850 kilograms);
- from 1 July 2007, for the filling of vehicle tyres.
The placing on the market of fluorinated gases for the applications listed in Annex II to the Regulation is prohibited from the date specified in the Annex. More restrictive measures are permitted until 31 December 2012 if they are compatible with the Treaty and notified to the Commission.
Certain types of product and equipment containing fluorinated gases must be clearly and indelibly labelled, with a statement of the type and quantity of gas they contain. These include refrigeration and air-conditioning products and equipment (other than those fitted to vehicles), heat pumps, fire protection systems, switchgear and containers.
The labelling may include environmental information, such as the global warming potential, as well as pictograms applicable to the equipment and the products.
By 31 March 2008 and every year thereafter anyone producing, importing or exporting more than one tonne of any of fluorinated greenhouse gases must communicate the amount produced, imported or exported, the applications in which they will be used and the expected emissions, and the amounts recycled, reclaimed or destroyed.
Recovery of fluorinated gases
Wherever possible, fluorinated gases from the cooling circuits of refrigeration equipment, from equipment containing solvents, from fire protection systems and from high voltage switch gear must be recovered for recycling, reclamation or destruction. The same applies to unused gases left in the containers.
Staff training and certification
By 4 July 2008 the Member States must establish certification and training programmes for personnel involved in leakage inspections and the recovery, recycling, reclamation and destruction of fluorinated gases. These programmes must comply with the minimum requirements and conditions laid down by the Commission, by 4 July 2007 at the latest.
By 31 December 2007 the Commission must carry out a wide-ranging evaluation of the provisions and make a report to the European Parliament and the Council. It must also publish a report on the implementation of the Regulation by 31 December 2011.
On matters relating to fluorinated gases, the Commission will be assisted by the Management Committee established under the Regulation on ozone depleting substances.
Fluorinated greenhouse gases have a much higher global warming potential that CO2 (the global warming potential is calculated according to the warming potential of a given gas over a period of a hundred years in comparison to a kilogram of CO2). As these gases are covered by the Kyoto protocol, this reduction of emissions will help achieve the EU's objectives under the protocol.
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
Regulation (EC) No 842/2006
OJ L 161, 14.6.2006
|Amending act(s)||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008
OJ L 311, 21.11.2008
The successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
- Emissions from air conditioning systems in motor vehicles
- Directorate-General for Climate Action - Fluorinated greenhouse gases