Key messages: The volume of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) on the EU market has declined markedly since 2014. It has been below the limit set by the fluorinated greenhouse gas (F-gas) Regulation in 2015 in each year since. Between 2020 and 2021, quotas for placing HFCs on the market were reduced by 38%

Hydrofluorocarbon phase-down in EU Member States*, 2014-2022 

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Between 1990 and 2014, EU emissions of powerful, human-made fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) increased. This was mainly due to the substitution of ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) with HFCs in the refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) sector, and this sector’s overall growth.  

The volume of bulk HFCs placed on the EU market peaked in 2014 due to stockpiling by industry in anticipation of the current F-gas Regulation, which came into force in 2015. This volume has declined markedly since then. In 2015 and every year since the volume has been below quotas set by the regulation. Between 2020 and 2021 HFC quotas were cut by 38%.  

When combined with the recovery of gases, the collection and clean treatment of F-gas-containing equipment at the end of their lifetimes will further help reduce F-gas emissions. In addition, a recently adopted revision of the F-gas regulation (entering into force in 2025) aims to accelerate the phase-down of F-gases by further reducing quotas for placing HFCs on the market. It will also promote the use of sustainable alternatives, while further restricting or banning the use of F-gases (e.g. for additional applications in the RACHP sector, electrical equipment). The revision also calls for increasing control of their use and trade.  

Lastly, since many F-gases and other fluorinated gases used as substitutes for F-gases fall under the definition of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), they could be restricted by a proposal under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. The proposal, submitted to the European Chemicals Agency by the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Norway in 2023, argues for addressing chemical risks associated with PFAS by focussing on their persistence and other hazards. 

 Please consult the relevant indicators and signals below for a more comprehensive overview on the topic.

F-gases include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). HFCs account for the vast majority of total F-gas emissions.  

Under the F-gas regulation, to place bulk HFC gases on the market, companies must hold sufficient quotas). These quotas are expressed in tonnes of CO2 equivalents to create an incentive to use gases with lower global warming potential. The quotas are set to progressively decrease from 2015 and reach a 79% reduction by 2030, as compared to the annual average of the total volume placed on the market from 2009 to 2012.  

Since 2017, HFCs in imported RACHP equipment have also been included in the quota system by means of authorisations that equipment importers buy from quota holders. While the HFC phase-down under the F-gas Regulation jointly applied to the EU-27 and the UK until 2020, the maximum quota quantities for 2021 onwards have been adjusted to the EU-27 scope. 

 More information is available at the EEA indicator page


References and footnotes

  1. EEA, 2023, ‘EEA greenhouse gases — data viewer’, European Environment Agency ( accessed 25 April 2023.
  2. EU, 2014, Regulation (EU) No 517/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases and repealing Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 Text with EEA relevance (OJ L 150, 20.5.2014, p. 195–230).
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  3. EU, 2024, Regulation (EU) 2024/573 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 February 2024 on fluorinated greenhouse gases, amending Directive (EU) 2019/1937 and repealing Regulation (EU) No 517/2014 (OJ L, 2024/573, 20.02.2024).
  4. ECHA, 2021, ‘Registry of restriction intentions until outcome - ECHA’, European Chemicals Agency ( accessed 17 January 2024.