FRIDGES, CHILLERS & AIR CONDITIONING – New EU legislation – What the ‘F’ Gas?!

Welcome to The Grocery Trader’s Fridges, Chillers & Air Conditioning feature. There’s a sea change taking place in this important sector, and it comes down to two little words that everyone using this equipment commercially needs to grasp: F-gas. There’s a wealth of information on line, but probably the best summary, courtesy of the EU, is at http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/f-gas/index_en.htm.

chazAs the website says, fluorinated gases, or ‘F-gases’ for short, are a family of man-made gases used in a range of industrial applications, including refrigerants in refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump equipment.

Because they do not damage the atmospheric ozone layer, they are often deployed as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and halons, which are being phased out. On the downside F-gases are powerful greenhouse gases, with a global warming effect up to 23,000 times greater than CO2, and their emissions are rising strongly.

The EU is taking regulatory action to control F-gases as part of its policy to combat climate change. The first F-gas Regulation was adopted in 2006 and succeeded in stabilising EU F-gas emissions at 2010 levels. The new EU F-Gas Regulations, which replaces the first and applies from 1 January 2015, strengthens the existing measures and introduces a number of far-reaching changes. By 2030 it will cut the EU’s F-gas emissions by two-thirds compared with 2014 levels.

This represents a fair and cost-efficient contribution by the F-gas sector to the EU’s objective of cutting its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% of 1990 levels by 2050. The expected cumulative emission savings are 1.5 Gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent by 2030 and 5 Gigatonnes by 2050. The latter number is more than the CO2 produced by a billion return flights from Paris to New York.

The new legislation will stimulate innovation and green growth and jobs by encouraging the use of green technologies based on less climate-harmful alternatives. It should also improve prospects for a future global agreement to phase down the use of F-gases under the Montreal Protocol on the protection of the ozone layer.