HFCs, PFCs and SF6 are fluorinated greenhouse gases, whose emissions together with CO2, CH4 and N20, are controlled under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. These gases are monitored within the EU under the monitoring Directive and featured in a number of national action programmes in individual Member States.
In August 2003 as part of the First Phase of the ECCP (European Climate Change Programme) the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation to reduce emissions of Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (sometimes called "F-gases": HFCs, PFC and SF6) : the Draft Regulation COM(2003) 492.
The main elements of the proposal are:
EFCTC presentation explains the requirements of the proposed Regulation.
EFCTC Press Release (August 2003) welcomed the Draft Proposal, but cautions against the proposed phase-out of HFC 134a in car air-conditioning.
EFCTC also published a comment containing detailed statements and proposals in order to clarify its viewpoint on the proposed Regulation.
On 31 March 2004, in its First reading, the EU Parliament adopted a legislative resolution amending the Commission Proposal.
EFCTC Press Release (March 2004) welcomed the overall outcome of the Parliament vote, beneficial to the environment and the society.
EU environment ministers meeting in Luxembourg on 14 October reached a political agreement on a Draft proposal on F-gases emissions reduction.
EFCTC published a Press Release (October 2004) welcoming the Political Agreement, its content and dual Legal Base, but expressed concern over the phase-out of HFC-134a in mobile air-conditioning systems, when “alternatives are still in the development phase and no mass-produced commercial system, that provides demonstrable economic, safety and environmental benefits is yet available”.
The Common Position published in March 2005 is composed of 2 different texts, a Common Position for a Regulation on Certain Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases, and a Common Position for a Directive Relating to Emissions from Air Conditioning Systems in Motor Vehicles
Link to the Official Journal Text of the Regulation and of the Directive (in all EU languages).
Essentially the Common Position proposes:
A directive (to be transposed in national regulations) to phase out HFC-134a from vehicle air conditioning as of 2011 for new models, as of 2017 for all new cars. Due to the GWP limit of 150 set for MAC refrigerants, the moderately flammable HFC 152a could be used to replace HFC 134a. Limit leakage rates have been set. The legal base should be Article 95 of the EU Treaty (Internal Market)
(Note : a Directive is not immediately applicable, as it has first to be transposed into National law in each Member State)
On 26 October 2005, in its Second Reading, the EU Parliament adopted a legislative Resolution making a few amendments to the Common Position.
On the Regulation on Certain Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases, the Parliament has accepted the Common Position, confirming its containment policy, and rejecting the earlier Environment committee amendments to impose bans on most F-gases.
It has retained the dual legal base of both Article 95 of the EU Treaty (Internal Market) for use controls, and Article 175 (Environment) on the containment aspects.
A provision was added to allow member states to maintain or adopt stricter F-gas controls if these are in line with their national greenhouse gas reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
The Directive Relating to Emissions from Air Conditioning Systems in Motor Vehicles has been left virtually unchanged.
See EFCTC Press Release welcoming the EU Parliament Second Reading giving support for the Council Common Position, a step in the right direction to strengthen actions to protect the climate and the environment.
At its first meeting on 31st January, the Conciliation Committee approved joint texts for these proposals, which, in effect concludes the negotiation on the F-Gas Regulation proposals.
The Council and the European Parliament agreed a number of technical amendments as well as a new article, which provides for a time limited derogation (until 31st December 2012) from the placing on the market provisions, for those Member States that had stricter national measures in place as at 31 December 2005. Such existing stricter national measures must be compatible with the Treaty.
EFCTC welcomed the agreement, a clear message in support of refrigerant choice, energy efficiency and containment to reduce emissions of fluorinated gases, and which confirms the continued use of HFCs across Europe in their many applications, including refrigeration, stationary air conditioning and thermal insulation.
In its 3rd Reading in April 2006, a large majority at the European Parliament approved the Joint Texts of the Conciliation Committee on the Regulation on Fluorinated Gases and the Directive on Mobile Air Conditioning.
Later on, the EU Council of ministers formally approved the Texts, clearing the way for their publication in the Official Journal, after which both legislations will enter into force.
Regarding the Commission action upon Austria and Denmark, because of their stricter regulations, the Report on the 3rd reading mentions that “On the specific case of the existing national measures in Denmark and Austria, against which the Commission has been considering legal action, a safeguard clause was introduced, which will allow the two Member States to keep their legislation until 31 December 2012.”
After discussions between representatives of the EU Parliament and the Commission, rapporteur Doyle expressed her confidence that the infringement procedures against Denmark and Austria are likely to be terminated but the final decision of the Commission is still pending.
The F-gas Regulation and the MAC Directive were published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 14 June 2006.
The Regulation entered into force on the 4 July 2006 and shall apply with effect from 4 July 2007. In addition to the legal text, additional national measures will be needed to implement, among others, its provisions on penalties for non-compliance.
The MAC Directive will have to be transposed into national law by 4 January 2008. It will phase out HFC-134a from air conditioning systems from 1 January 2011 onward for new vehicle models and from 1 January 2017 for all new vehicles.