The term “F-gases” relates to fluorinated greenhouse gases including HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons), PFCs (perfluorocarbons), SF6 (sulfur hexafluoride) and NF3(nitrogen trifluoride).
HFCs were introduced as alternatives to ozone depleting substances (ODS) in the 1990s as a consequence of the 1987 Montreal Protocol. HFCs are mostly used as refrigerants in refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) equipment but also as foam blowing agents, propellants for sprays and also as fire extinguishing agents. The RAC sector includes a high number of applications. HFCs are not only used in supermarkets, industrial applications and room air conditioner but also in mobile air conditioning systems in cars, trains, buses and ships.
PFCs occur during the production of aluminum, are used as etching gases and heat transfer fluids in the semiconductor and photovoltaics industries and, to minor extent, as refrigerants and solvents. SF6’ is used in electrical switchgear since the 1960s and in magnesium production. NF3’ serves as chamber cleaning agent in the semiconductor and photovoltaics industries.
F-gases have no ozone depleting potential but some of them have a very high global warming potential. Hence the Kyoto Protocol under the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change does not only address CO2, methane and nitrous oxide emissions but also F-gas emissions. In October 2016, with the amendment of the Montreal Protocol, a milestone for climate protection was reached in Kigali (Ruanda). Until 2050 the consumption and production of HFCs are to be reduced significantly, while developed countries emission reduction will be realised faster than in developing countries. It is an important step towards the realisation of the long-term goals set by the Paris agreement in December 2015, which aims at holding the increase of the global average temperature to well below 2 °C – if possible to 1.5 °C – compared to pre-industrial levels.
In this context, the F-gas Regulation (EU) 517/2014 was adopted at EU level. It replaces the former Regulation (EC) 842/2006 and is in force since 1 January 2015. One of its main elements is the so called “phase down” which refers to stepwise reductions of the placing on the market of HFCs in the EU. The regulation also sets out a number of bans. In Germany the F-gas Regulation is implemented by means of the German Chemicals Climate Protection Ordinance (Chemikalien-Klimaschutzverordnung – ChemKlimaschutzV).
"Support EU F-gas policy", EU Comission, DG CLIMA, 2015-2018
"Support related to preparing the HFC phase-down mechanism, labelling rules and guidance documents for the EU F-gas policy", EU Comission, DG CLIMA, 2014-2015