Production, sales and emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases)

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-354-en
Also known as: CSI 044 , CLIM 048
Created 18 Dec 2014 Published 01 Jul 2015 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 07:00 PM
Topics: ,
Since 1990, EU-28 F-gas emissions have experienced significant growth, more than offsetting an intermittent decrease between 1997 and 2001. While PFCs and SF 6  emissions have reduced by a significant degree, a major rise can be observed for HFCs emissions, which have almost tripled since 1990. In 2013, the net supply of F-gases to the EU declined for the third consecutive year since 2010, both in terms of metric tonnes and CO 2 -equivalents. The 2013 net supply levels are slightly below the low levels of the ‘economic crisis’ year, 2009. EU production appears to have stabilised slightly above 2008 levels after the sharp decline that was observed from 2007 to 2009. Imports of F-gases grew from 2007 to 2008, experienced a dip in the 'economic crisis' year of 2009 and have been on the decline from 2010 to 2012. However, in 2013 imports rose back to 2011 levels. Exports of F-gases have been on the rise since 2009 when expressed in metric tonnes, however, they are still below 2007 levels. Expressed in CO 2 -equivalents, however, 2013 exports dropped slightly. Context: Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) covered by the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol comprise hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF 6 ). These F-gases typically have very long lifetimes in the atmosphere and high global warming potentials (GWPs). F-gases are mostly produced for use in products and equipment in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, electrical equipment, foams, fire protection or as aerosols etc. Emissions take place mainly due to leakage during the use phase or due to failure to fully recover the F-gases at the end of the product/equipment lifetime. Future F-gas emissions are thus largely determined by (i) present day use of F-gases and (ii) measures to prevent leakage and encourage recovery.

Key messages

Since 1990, EU-28 F-gas emissions have experienced significant growth, more than offsetting an intermittent decrease between 1997 and 2001. While PFCs and SF6 emissions have reduced by a significant degree, a major rise can be observed for HFCs emissions, which have almost tripled since 1990.

In 2013, the net supply of F-gases to the EU declined for the third consecutive year since 2010, both in terms of metric tonnes and CO2-equivalents. The 2013 net supply levels are slightly below the low levels of the ‘economic crisis’ year, 2009. EU production appears to have stabilised slightly above 2008 levels after the sharp decline that was observed from 2007 to 2009. Imports of F-gases grew from 2007 to 2008, experienced a dip in the 'economic crisis' year of 2009 and have been on the decline from 2010 to 2012. However, in 2013 imports rose back to 2011 levels. Exports of F-gases have been on the rise since 2009 when expressed in metric tonnes, however, they are still below 2007 levels. Expressed in CO2-equivalents, however, 2013 exports dropped slightly.

Context: Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) covered by the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol comprise hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). These F-gases typically have very long lifetimes in the atmosphere and high global warming potentials (GWPs). F-gases are mostly produced for use in products and equipment in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, electrical equipment, foams, fire protection or as aerosols etc. Emissions take place mainly due to leakage during the use phase or due to failure to fully recover the F-gases at the end of the product/equipment lifetime. Future F-gas emissions are thus largely determined by (i) present day use of F-gases and (ii) measures to prevent leakage and encourage recovery.

What progress is being made in reducing emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases?

Emissions of fluorinated gases (F-gases)

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Production, imports, exports and net supply of aggregated fluorinated gases (F-gases)

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Greenhouse gases covered by the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol include, among others, three groups of fluorinated greenhouse gases (the so-called 'F-gases'):

  • hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs);
  • perfluorocarbons (PFCs); and
  • sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

 

These F-gases typically have very long lifetimes in the atmosphere and high global warming potentials (GWPs). Many F-gases are used as replacements for ozone-depleting substances (ODS) across various applications. As ozone-depleting substances are largely being phased out in the EU in compliance with the Montreal Protocol and EU Regulation (EC) No 1005/2009, the future use of F-gases has considerable potential for growth.

F-gases are mostly produced for use in products and equipment in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, electrical equipment, foams, fire protection or as aerosols etc. Emissions take place mainly due to leakage and upon failure to fully recover the F-gases at the end of the product/equipment lifetime. Future F-gas emissions are thus largely determined by (i) the present day consumption of F-gases and (ii) technical measures to prevent leakage and encourage recovery.

The emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) in the EU-28 Member States rose steeply in the 1990s, before declining between 1997 and 2001. Since 2001, emissions have continued to rise steadily (Figure 1). In contrast to the general rising trend for EU-28 F-gas emissions as a whole, emissions of PFCs and SF6 have been considerably reduced, by 86% and 42% respectively since 1990. The overall growth in total F-gas emissions is therefore due to an increase in emissions of HFCs, whose main use is as refrigerants. HFC emissions have more than tripled since 1990 and more than doubled since 1995. The HFC share of total F-gas emissions has risen from 46% in 1990 to 58% in 1995 and to 90% in 2012.

Several legislative instruments in the European Union target F-gases – for details see the indicator specificationSince 2007, data on EU production, bulk imports, bulk exports and destruction of F-gases has been centrally collected. Imports and exports of F-gases contained in products (e.g. foams) or equipment (e.g. vehicles, air-conditioning equipment, medical dose inhalers, electrical equipment) are not included in the statistics. An overview of information is provided by the EEA in its annual fluorinated greenhouse gases report. It should be noted that the assessment of trends is dependent upon the unit used to express the amounts of F-gases, i.e. physical metric tonnes or GWP-weighted tonnes (COequivalents). Statistics in metric tonnes reflect the use patterns of F-gases in absolute terms, while F-gas usage expressed as COequivalents also reflects the potential relevance for climate change policy.

In total, 154 companies reported production, import or export of F-gases for 2013, an increase of 19% on the previous year. 

In 2013, the net supply (use of bulk gases by EU industries and consumers) of F-gases declined for the third consecutive year since 2010, both in terms of metric tonnes and COequivalents. 2013 net supply levels are slightly below the low levels of the 'economic crisis' year, 2009. The decrease in net supply of fluorinated gases is dominated by a decrease in net supply of HFCs, which more than counterbalances a 4.4% increase in SF6 net supply in 2013 compared to 2012. HFCs constitute 98% of the net supply in 2013, or 82% when measured in CO2-equivalents. SF6 net supply is only relevant in terms of COequivalents, with 18%, while PFCs contribute to less than 1% of total F-gases net supply.

Production of F-gases also declined for the third consecutive year since 2010. Expressed in COequivalents, however, the first decrease (8%) was observed in 2013 following four years of growth. This is because SF6 production dropped in 2013 compared with 2012 after four years of increases, while HFC production has been declining steadily since 2010. Imports of F-gases in 2013 rose by 12% (COequivalents) compared to 2012. This is the first rise since 2010 when a sharp increase was observed after the 2009 'economic crisis' year. Overall, 2013 imports are at approximately the same level as in 2011. Exports of F-gases have been on the rise since 2009 when expressed in metric tonnes, however, they are still below 2007 levels. The year-on-year increase from 2012 to 2013 was 2%. Expressed in COequivalents, however, 2013 exports dropped by 3%. This is because SF6 exports dropped by 7% compared with 2012, while HFC exports increased 3.1% (metric tonnes) or 1.4% (CO2 equivalents).

Significant amounts of F-gases are imported and exported, with the sum of imports into the EU and exports from the EU usually exceeding domestic production. According to a 2011 study for the European Commission (Schwarz et al. 2011), imported quantities of F-gases contained in pre-charged equipment represented almost 13% (measured in physical tonnes) of the import of bulk F-gases in 2008. Export of F-gases contained in pre-charged equipment was estimated to represent ca. 42% of  exported bulk quantities. Converted to GWP-tonnage the respective shares are 11% (imports) and 34% (exports).

In which sectors are fluorinated greenhouse gases used?

Share of the main intended applications of fluorinated gases (F-gases) sales, as reported by companies

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The majority of F-gases are used as refrigerants in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, both mobile and stationary. HFCs are most commonly used. The second largest application sector is electrical equipment (SF6). Due to the extremely high GWP of SF6, the application’s share is rather small if measured in physical tonnes as compared to GWP-weighted tonnage. Other relevant application sectors are aerosols, fire protection and foams, all of which mostly use HFCs (Figure 3).

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

The indicator tracks trends since 1990 in anthropogenic emissions of the following fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases), differentiated by HFCs, PFCs and SF6.

HFCs

PFCs

SF6

HFC-23

CF4

 

HFC-32

C2F6

 

HFC-41

C3F8

 

HFC-43-10mee

C4F10

 

HFC-125

c-C4F8

 

HFC-134

C5F12

 

HFC-134a

C6F14

 

HFC-152a

 

 

HFC-143

 

 

HFC-143a

 

 

HFC-227ea

 

 

HFC-236fa

 

 

HFC-245ca

 

 

The indicator also tracks trends since 2007 in the aggregated production, bulk imports, bulk exports and consumption of F-gases, differentiated, where available by HFCs, PFCs and SF6; additional F-gases compared to the emissions list are marked in bold.

HFCs

PFCs

SF6

HFC-23

CF4

 

HFC-32

C2F6

 

HFC-41

C3F8

 

HFC-43-10mee

C4F10

 

HFC-125

c-C4F8

 

HFC-134

C5F12

 

HFC-134a

C6F14

 

HFC-152a

 

 

HFC-143

 

 

HFC-143a

 

 

HFC-227ea

 

 

HFC-236cb

 

 

HFC-236ea

 

 

HFC-236fa

 

 

HFC-245ca

 

 

HFC-245fa

 

 

HFC-365mfc

 

 

‘Net supply’ is a parameter derived from company reporting under the F-Gas Regulation that provides information on the actual use of (bulk) F-gases by EU industries. Net supply is calculated by firstly adding reported amounts for:

  • production
  • imports (bulk imports only, imports contained in products or equipment are not considered in the reporting under the F-Gas Regulation)
  • stocks held on 1 January of the reporting year
  • ‘other amounts collected for reclamation or destruction from within the EU’,

and then subtracting the following reported amounts:

  • exports (bulk exports only, exports contained in products or equipment are not considered in the reporting under the F-Gas Regulation)
  • destruction (on-site by reporting companies and off-site within the EU on reporting companies’ behalf)
  • amounts used as feedstock by reporting companies
  • stocks held on 31 December of the reporting year.

 

Furthermore, the shares of intended applications of F-gas net supply in the latest available reporting year are given, differentiating between

  • refrigeration and air-conditioning
  • fire protection
  • aerosols
  • foams
  • electrical equipment
  • other, unknown or no information reported.

Units

Emissions: Mt CO2-eq (GWP SAR): Million tonnes of CO2 equivalents calculated with the global warming potentials (GWPs) as given in the IPCC 2nd Assessment Report.

Production, imports, exports & consumption: Mt CO2-eq (GWP AR4): Million tonnes of CO2 equivalents calculated with the global warming potentials (GWPs) as given in the IPCC 4th Assessment Report.

Intended applications: Percentages based on physical tonnage and GWP AR4 weighted tonnage, respectively.


Policy context and targets

Context description

Fluorinated gases contribute to global warming and F-gases, which are not covered by the Montreal Protocol, are included under the UNFCCC. Emission reporting according to the 1996 IPCC guidelines and the 2000 IPCC 'Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories' uses the GWPs of the 2nd IPCC Assessment report (SAR):

HFCs

PFCs

SF6

HFC-23

CF4

 

HFC-32

C2F6

 

HFC-41

C3F8

 

HFC-43-10mee

C4F10

 

HFC-125

c-C4F8

 

HFC-134

C5F12

 

HFC-134a

C6F14

 

HFC-152a

 

 

HFC-143

 

 

HFC-143a

 

 

HFC-227ea

 

 

HFC-236fa

 

 

HFC-245ca

 

 

 The 'old' EU F-Gas Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 extends this list of covered F-gases by HFC-236cb, HFC-236ea, HFC-245fa and HFC-365mfc. As of 2015, coverage of gases will be extended both for UNFCCC inventory reporting and for the scope of the 'new' EU F-Gas Regulation 517/2014 repealing Regulation 642/2006. This will be taken up in the autumn 2015 update of this indicator.

On European level two key legislative instruments focus on fluorinated gases:

  • Regulation No 842/2006 on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gas Regulation) and
  • Directive 2006/40/EC relating to emissions from air-conditioning systems in motor vehicles (MAC Directive)

The 'old' F-Gas Regulation follows two tracks of action:

  • Improving the 'leak-tightness' of equipment containing F-gases. Measures comprise: labelling of equipment containing F-gases, training and certification of personnel and companies handling this type of gases, containment of F-gases within equipment, and proper recovery of F-gases from equipment that is no longer used.
  • Avoiding the use of F-gases in some applications in which more environmentally superior alternatives are already cost-effective. Measures include restrictions on the use and marketing of F-gases in these cases.

 The 'old' EU F-Gas Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 extends the list of covered F-gases (in comparison to the IPCC reporting requirement) by HFC-236cb, HFC-236ea, HFC-245fa and HFC-365mfc.

The 'new' F-Gas Regulation 517/2014 maintains many measures of the 'old' F-Gas Regulation 842/2006, in particular related to leak prevention, recovery, certification of technicians and selected restrictions on the use and marketing of F-gases. Large reductions in F-gas use and emissions are expected from a new measure, which will progressively cap allowed sales of HFCs on the EU market ('phase-down').Reductions are also expected from bans of F-gases with a high Global Warming Potential (GWP).

The MAC Directive requires gradual phase-out of F-gases with GWP >150 in new systems in the period 2011-2017 in EU.

Targets

In the framework of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, no separate target for fluorinated greenhouse gases has been specified.

In the EU context, the overall objective of the 'old' F-Gas Regulation was, together with the MAC Directive, to help fulfill the commitments of the European Union and its Member States under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, for the period 2008 to 2012. The legislation was expected to break the growing trend in the EU and maintain F-gas emissions in EU-15 at 75 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2010[1]. In fact, the 2010 EU-15 F-gas emissions accounted for 78 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents (according to the 2014 reporting). The 'new' F-Gas Regulation 517/2014 aims to reduce emissions by two-thirds of the 2010 level by 2030.

 [1] COM(2003) 492 final of 11.8.2003. This Commission proposal was the basis of both the Regulation and the MAC Directive.

Related policy documents

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

The indicator presents GWP-weighted emissions of F-gases as officially reported by the EU-28 Member States.

Furthermore, the indicator presents aggregated production, imports, exports and net supply in units of million tonnes of CO2-equivalents, which is the physical amount of F-gases produced, imported, exported or consumed, multiplied by their respective global warming potential. Data are based on company reporting under Article 6 of the 'old' F-gas Regulation 642/2006.

‘Net supply’ is a parameter derived from company reporting under the 'old' F-Gas Regulation 642/2006 that provides information on the actual use of (bulk) F-gases by EU industries. Net supply is calculated by firstly adding reported amounts for:

  • production
  • imports (bulk imports only, imports contained in products or equipment are not considered in the reporting under the F-Gas Regulation)
  • stocks held on 1 January of the reporting year
  • ‘other amounts collected for reclamation or destruction from within the EU’,

and then subtracting the following reported amounts:

  • exports (bulk exports only, exports contained in products or equipment are not considered in the reporting under the F-Gas Regulation)
  • destruction (on-site by reporting companies and off-site within the EU on reporting companies’ behalf)
  • amounts used as feedstock by reporting companies
  • stocks held on 31 December of the reporting year.


The 'old' EU F-Gas Regulation 842/2006 extends the list of covered F-gases (in comparison to the IPCC reporting requirement) by HFC-236cb, HFC-236ea, HFC-245fa and HFC-365mfc.

The reporting requirements under the 'new' F-Gas Regulation 517/2014 cover a largely extended list of gases. However, this does not come into effect before companies report on their 2014 activities, due 31st March 2015. Furthermore, reporting requirements under the IPCC do also change in 2015. In consequence, the new data situation as of 2015 will be reflected in the 2015 update of this indicator.

All information provided to the Commission and the EEA on transactions of F-gases in the EU is treated as strictly confidential. The Commission and the EEA have established procedures to ensure that all of the data relating to individual companies will be kept strictly confidential. No company-specific information is disclosed to the public; all company data are aggregated before publication. These procedures limit the release of data that might significantly rely on reports from less than three company groups. To this end, company groups that contribute to less than 5 % do not count toward the '3-company-rule'. Concerns regarding confidentiality can be addressed to the European Commission or to the entity designated by the European Commission.

Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling takes place.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

As a part of the calculation process for 'net supply', quantities reported for on-site destruction by the reporting company and quantities reported for destruction off-site on behalf of the reporting company are taken into account (with a negative arithmetic sign) as well as 'other amounts collected for reclamation or destruction from within the EU' (with a positive arithmetic sign). Summing up both destruction-related quantities might possibly result in both double counting and omissions: Double-counting is not impossible, as reporting companies might report as 'own destruction' the same quantity which was reported as 'destroyed off-site' by another company. Omissions are very probable as specialised destruction facilities (which do not report themselves) might have destroyed more used F-gases than those quantities received by reporting companies. Furthermore, an aggregate analysis of 'other amounts collected for reclamation or destruction from within the EU' performed in the 2013 EEA report on F-gases (EEA Technical report No 15/2013) reporting reveals that these amounts do not match the amounts reported for actual destruction, reclamation or exports to theses purposes. However, the absolute relevance of the reported destruction quantities was limited to approximately 1 % of total net supply in past years.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

Climate change Climate change (Primary topic)

Tags:
ghg emissions | fluorinated gases | fluorinated greenhouse gases
DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 044
  • CLIM 048
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1990-2013
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Peder Gabrielsen

EEA Management Plan

2014 1.2.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100