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Karen IRI October 5, 2023 0 Comments

The Council and Parliament negotiators today reached a provisional political agreement on phasing down substances that cause global warming and deplete the ozone layer.

This provisional agreement finalises negotiations on fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) and confirms an informal agreement reached in June on ozone-depleting substances (ODSs).

While existing EU legislation has already limited the use of F-gases significantly, the new rules would further reduce their emission into the atmosphere and contribute to limiting the global temperature increase, in line with the Paris Agreement.

Fluorinated gases

According to the provisional agreement, the consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) will be completely phased out by 2050, and the production of HFCs, in terms of production rights allocated by the Commission, will be phased down to a minimum (15%) as of 2036. Both production and consumption will be phased down based on a tight schedule of decreasing quota allocation (Annexes V and VII). The agreement introduces a higher quota allocation for the first two periods compared to the Commission proposal. Semi-conductors will be exempted from the HFC quota allocation system, as proposed by the Commission, and the feasibility of the phase-out of the consumption of HFCs and the need for HFCs in sectors where they are still used will be reviewed in 2040, taking into account technological developments and the availability of alternatives to HFCs for the relevant applications.

The text introduces a full ban on placing several categories of products and equipment containing HFCs on the market, including certain domestic refrigerators, chillers, foams and aerosols (Annex IV). It brings forward some deadlines for the ban and extends it to products that use F-gases with a lesser global warming potential (GWP). Exemptions from the ban are provided for if there are safety concerns.

The provisional agreement introduces a full ban on small (<12kW) monobloc heat pumps and air conditioning that contain F-gases with a GWP of at least 150 starting in 2027, and a complete phase-out in 2032. With regard to split air conditioning and heat pumps containing F-gases, the co-legislators agreed on a full ban starting in 2035, with earlier deadlines for certain types of split systems with higher global warming potential. Exemptions are provided for in cases where this equipment is needed to meet safety requirements. The provisional agreement also includes the possibility to release a limited number of additional quotas for heat pumps if the proposed bans were to endanger the attainment of the heat pump deployment target required under REPowerEU.

The text also lays down a new full ban on medium voltage switchgears relying on F-gases, with a gradual phase-out by 2030, and a ban on high voltage switchgears by 2032. It introduces a cascading principle that allows for potential derogations from the bans depending on the bidding process for F-gas-free alternatives. It includes a possibility for high voltage switchgear to use the very potent greenhouse gas SF6 as a last resort under the cascading principle and adds a number of safeguards in order to avoid the bans endangering the functioning of the electrical grids.

The provisional agreement introduces a ban on some equipment needed to repair and service existing equipment. From 2025, servicing equipment for refrigeration equipment that uses F-gases with high global warming potential will be banned unless the gases are reclaimed or recycled, in which case they benefit from a derogation until 2030. A similar ban is introduced for servicing equipment for air conditioning and heat pump equipment for 2026, with a derogation for reclaimed or recycled gases until 2032. A servicing ban on stationary refrigeration equipment designed to cool products to temperatures below -50 °C using F-gases with lower global warming potential starting will be applied in 2032, with a permanent derogation where recycled or reclaimed gases are used.

The text sets the HFC quota allocation price at €3, adjustable for inflation. Part of the revenue will be used to cover the administrative costs of the implementation of the F-gas regulation, and the rest will go to the general EU budget.
The text sets out a mandatory extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme from 1 January 2028 for F-gases in products and equipment which fall under the categories of electrical and electronic equipment subject to Directive 2012/19/EU (on waste electrical and electronic equipment).

The provisional text provides that member states will set rules on effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties applicable to infringements. The penalties should include at least fines, confiscation of products, temporary exclusion of products from public procurement and temporary trade bans. They should be compatible with the Environmental Crime Directive and with national legal systems. They should be above a set minimum quantitative threshold if member states decide to set a threshold.

Ozone-depleting substances

The provisional agreement confirmed that ODSs are prohibited in almost all cases, with only strictly limited exemptions. The text includes an exemption for the use of ODSs as feedstock to produce other substances. The Commission will be tasked with regularly updating a list ODSs the use of which as feedstock is banned. An assessment of the availability of alternatives for feedstock is to be primarily done at international level, under the Montreal Protocol. However, as a safeguard, if the international expert panel fails to do so within a certain timeframe, the Commission will make an assessment of viable alternatives.

The text will also allow, under strict conditions, ODSs used as process agents, in laboratories and for fire protection in special applications such as military equipment and airplanes.

The provisional agreement extends the requirement to recover ODSs for destruction, recycling or reclamation to include more than in the Commission proposal. The requirement will cover refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment, equipment containing solvents, fire protection systems and fire extinguishers and other equipment if technically and economically feasible.

The text also extends to all ODSs the requirement on undertakings to take precautions to prevent and minimise the unintentional release of ODSs and to ensure that any leakage detected is repaired without undue delay.

Next steps

Both provisional agreements will now be submitted to the member states representatives within the Council (Coreper) and to the Parliament’s environment committee for endorsement. If approved, the text will then need to be formally adopted by both institutions, before it can be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force.


On 5 April 2022, the Commission adopted its proposals for a regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases and for a regulation on ozone-depleting substances. The Parliament adopted its stance on the proposal on 30 March 2023 and the Council reached agreement on a general approach on 5 April 2023. The effects of F-gases on global warming are up to several hundred thousand times stronger than those of CO2. ODSs, meanwhile, create a hole in the ozone layer, a layer of the Earth’s atmosphere which offers protection from cancer-causing UV rays.

F-gases are used in a wide range of everyday products, such as fridges, air conditioning systems and medicines. They are also used in heat pumps and switchgear devices in electric power systems.

The proposal for a revised regulation extends and tightens the free allocation quota system for the placing on the market of HFCs beyond 2030 and introduces a new quota system for their production. It introduces new restrictions for more types of equipment and products containing F-gases and strengthens provisions on their implementation and enforcement with penalties.