Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Climate change: Commission welcomes conciliation agreement on fluorinated

The Commission welcomes the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council last night in Conciliation to reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases. Fluorinated gases are extremely powerful and long-lived greenhouse gases used in refrigeration, air conditioning, fire-fighting, electrical transmission systems and various industry processes. Reducing their emissions is a requirement under the Kyoto Protocol and will help the EU and its Member States meet their emission targets under the Protocol. Based on a proposal made by the Commission in August 2003, the legislation agreed today includes a Regulation tackling emissions from stationary applications using these gases as well as banning some products and equipment containing them, and a Directive providing for the phase out of the fluorinated gases currently used in vehicle air conditioning systems.

"The legislation agreed today will make a significant contribution to the EU's efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and to meet its Kyoto commitments" said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. "It is an important first step because most F-gases have a global warming effect thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide. By agreeing on this legislation, the EU has once again demonstrated its commitment to the fight against climate change."

Fluorinated gases

The fluorinated greenhouse gases covered are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). These gases currently account for 2% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions. However, their warming impact on the atmosphere – their times that of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the most common greenhouse gas. If no measures were taken, the Commission estimates that emissions of fluorinated gases would be 50% above 1995 levels in 2010. With the measures agreed today, they will be reduced by more than 20% from 1995 levels by 2012 and by even more subsequently.

Regulation on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases

This Regulation will reduce emissions by focusing on the containment of these gases, notably by setting leakage inspection standards for refrigeration, air conditioning and fire fighting equipment as well as provisions for the recovery of the gases from such equipment when it reaches the end of its life. The Regulation will strengthen monitoring of the emissions of the gases, introduce labelling of certain products and equipment so that key information on these gases is made available, and set up EU-wide minimum standards for training and certification for personnel concerned.

Furthermore, where containment is not feasible or the use of certain fluorinated gases is inappropriate, marketing and use will be banned. Examples include their use in magnesium die-casting and the marketing of vehicle tyres, non-refillable containers, windows, footwear, one-component foams, self-chilling drinks cans, novelty aerosols, new fire protection systems and fire extinguishers containing these gases.

Directive to phase out HFC-134a from air conditioning systems in new vehicles

The Directive will phase out HFC 134a, the refrigerant currently used in car air conditioning system, from 1 January 2011 onward for new vehicle models and from 1 January 2017 for all new vehicles. In addition, vehicle air conditioners should not leak more than 40 grams of HFC-134a per year. If the vehicle has two evaporators, as can be the case in some minivans for instance, the maximum leakage rate should not be higher that 60 grams per year.
Under both pieces of legislation, Member States are invited to promote the use of more environmentally friendly technologies and alternatives.

Next steps
Following today's conciliation agreement, the final adoption of these legislative acts by Parliament and Council is expected by mid-2006. Member States will then have 18 months to transpose the Directive, while the Regulation will enter into force unchanged 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal and will apply 12 months from the date of entry into force.
The legislation is only a first step. Once in force there will need to be a period of monitoring and evaluation, after which the Commission will consider the need for additional measures on the basis of a thorough review.
More information on fluorinated greenhouse gases and the background to this proposal are available at:


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