On Thursday 30th March, MEPs strengthened their position on revising the EU’s legislative framework on fluorinated gases (F-gases) emissions used in refrigerators, air-conditioning and heat pumps. With 426 votes in favour, 109 against and 52 abstentions, the European Parliament is planning to accelerate the phase-down and total phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons by 2050 in a faster move towards climate-friendly solutions.
The vote means the European Parliament is ready to negotiate with EU governments on further reducing fluorinated gases emissions, to meet EU and global climate goals. MEPs want a steeper phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) on the EU market from 2039 onwards, with a full HFC production and consumption phase-out by 2050. This target would align the updated rules with the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality goal. The vote will also see requirements for selling products containing F-gas on the EU single market change and the illegal trade in F-gases to be better policed.
The proposals are being discussed by ministers in the EU Council, so that agreement can be found on its position. MEPs will then start talks, known as trilogues, between the European Commission, Parliament and Council on the final shape of the legislation.
However, the decision has not been welcomed by all. Indeed the implications for refrigerant and heat pump manufacturers are damming with trade bodies warning that speeding up the HFC phase out could actually put the decarbonisation agenda at risk. This is because the new proposals cover all F-gases, including those with a very low Global Warming Potential (GWP), resulting in a number of heat pumps being effectively banned in the next 3-5 years. Low GWP F-gasses had been seen by the industry as a way to transition from higher GWP and fossil fuel products on the path to decarbonisation. There are grave concerns that the accelerated phase out of F-gases will negatively impact the roll out of heat pumps. Eurovent, Europe's Industry Association for Indoor Climate (HVAC), Process Cooling, and Food Cold Chain Technologies, viewed the vote with growing despair, stating, “The result of the plenary vote of the European Parliament, including the reinforced HFC phase down steps and product bans, risks to seriously reduce the heat pump technology potential to fulfil the decarbonisation and electrification targets of the REPowerEU plan of the European Commission.
“Eurovent wishes to contribute to the next steps of the trilogue negotiations to ensure that the voice of the RACHP industry experts is heard, and trusts that it will result in sustainable measures ensuring that the climate and energy targets, as well as the REPowerEU ambition, can be really achieved.”