13th Apr 2024

MEPs vote for speedier phase-out of climate-wrecking gas

  • 'Mr F-gas' and Green MEP Bas Eickhout has overseen F-gas legislation for 10 years (Photo: euranet_plus)
Listen to article

The European Parliament's environment committee on Wednesday (1 March) voted to phase-out climate wrecking F-gases used in cooling systems and power transmission stations.

Fluorinated gases have a warming effect of up to 25,000 times stronger than that of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted by cars and industries. Although the amounts that end up in the troposphere are small, it amounts to 2.3 percent of total EU emissions.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Replacing F-gases is low-hanging fruit," said Green MEP and rapporteur of the file, Bas Eickhout, who also led the previous iteration of F-gas legislation in 2013. "Almost no one knows what F-gases are, but you might say they are a red line in my career."

Although there are many different F-gases produced by chemical companies, one widely-used gas, sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), is particularly destructive and has been described by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the " most climate-damaging greenhouse gas in the world."

It is used as superconductor in sub-transmission stations (so-called 'nodes') in many power grids. One kilogram of SF6 is more harmful to the climate than 25 people flying from London to New York.

MEPs have now overwhelmingly agreed that all F-gases should be phased out to 11 percent of the amount used in 2015 and then further reduced to zero by 2050. The updated legislation was voted through with 64 votes in favour and only eight votes against, setting it up for an expected easy adoption in the plenary vote 29-30 March.

While the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has applauded the "urgently needed" F-gas bans, some have pointed out that strict curbs on F-gases could slow the energy transition as it is also used in electric heat pumps.

Following the 2013 legislation, European manufacturers have already adapted and found less damaging or climate-neutral alternatives that can act as superconductors. But many foreign producers have not yet adapted to EU rules, and in a statement, European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) head of EU affairs, Jozefien Vanbecelaere, warned strict rules risk "significantly limiting the number of heat pumps available in certain market segments pushing consumers back to fossil fuels."

But many industry insiders there is enough time for manufacturers to adapt. "We need to get F-gases out of our power grids as quickly as possible. We're past the point where compromise solutions are acceptable when it comes to global warming — especially when climate-neutral alternatives are already available," said Tim Holt, member of the managing board of Siemens Energy.

To address the risk a section was added to the draft text requiring the EU Commission to sit down with heat pump industry representatives in 2025 to assess the impact of the legislation on the market.

Denmark and Austria win bittersweet victory on f-gases

EU lawmakers and governments have backed a compromise agreement to clamp down on emissions of fluorinated gases, leaving countries with stricter laws than the EU average another six years of breathing space before harmonisation.


Where Germany's Greens and FDP will collide on environment

The Greens and the FDP disagree on major political issues. While they both support the climate battle, their ways of ushering change are vastly different: the Greens advocate tougher environmental laws and regulations, and the FDP calls for market-based solutions.


EU's West Balkans gas expansion hurts security and renewables

Western Balkan governments have announced a series of new gas pipelines, terminals and power plants, supposedly to steer the region away from Russia. If implemented they will hamper the region's transition to renewables, and aggravate economic and security risks.

Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU

European environmental groups have urged the EU Commission to stand firm on implementing the bloc's landmark anti-deforestation legislation — despite a backlash from governments in South America, Africa and some EU ministers.


This 'deregulation' lobbying now threatens EU economy

Next week's EU summit (17-18 April) will discuss the strategic agenda for the next five years. The current "competitiveness agenda" is to a large extent driven by a big lobbying campaign — so far, not well covered by the media.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us