22nd Sep 2023

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get 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.

Latest News

  1. Europe's energy strategy: A tale of competing priorities
  2. Why Greek state workers are protesting new labour law
  3. Gloves off, as Polish ruling party fights for power
  4. Here's the headline of every op-ed imploring something to stop
  5. Report: Tax richest 0.5%, raise €213bn for EU coffers
  6. EU aid for Africa risks violating spending rules, Oxfam says
  7. Activists push €40bn fossil subsidies into Dutch-election spotlight
  8. Europe must Trump-proof its Ukraine arms supplies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  2. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  4. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us