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Fluorinated Greenhouse Gas

Fluorinated greenhouse gases (or F-gases) are man-made gases comprising families of gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexaflouride (SF6). F-gases are powerful greenhouse gases with global warming potential many times that of natural greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. They also tend to remain much longer in the atmosphere than natural greenhouse gases. Because of this, they are included in the basket of gases controlled by the Climate Change Treaties. States must control and reduce emissions of F-Gases.

The use of F-gases grew more than three-fold between 1995 (the base year for these gases) and 2004. Although comprising less than 1% of total emissions in Ireland in 2004, there has tended to be a year-on-year increase in emissions of F-gases. This is  because of increased semiconductor production, refrigeration and both stationary and mobile air-conditioning. Other uses include foams, fire extinguishers, aerosols and metered dose inhalers, and electrical equipment.

A factor in the increased use of HFCs has been the phasing out of CFCs under the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer.  The use of PFCs in the electronics sector and SF6 in semiconductor manufacture, electrical equipment a range of other applications has also been increasing steadily since 1995. Emissions of PFCs and SF6 are subject to some fluctuation in the semiconductor industry in particular and reflect changing manufacturing activity in response to the global trends in this market.

 

Existing regulation
The European Union adopted legislation aimed at controlling emissions from F-gases. Further information on their initiatives is on their website.

We have implemented the European rules with our own legislation. These regulations designate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the competent authority in the State.

To assist in the implementation of the regulations, the EPA has prepared guidance documents for operators and owners of equipment containing F-gases. These documents are available on the EPA website.


 

New EU F-gas Regulations
A review carried out by the European Commission concluded that there was potential to deliver large emission reductions if the F gas regulation was further improved and fully applied.

The latest EU F-gas Regulation aims to cut the EU’s F-gas emissions by two-thirds by 2030 compared with 2014 levels. This will contribute to the EU's objective of cutting its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% of 1990 levels by 2050.

The new Regulation aims to achieve these objectives by further reducing emissions through extended containment provisions. It also encourages the use of low global warming potential (GWP) alternatives through placing on the market bans and the phase down of HFCs.

A guiding principle of the new provisions is to allow the use of equipment for its useful life and to recognise that alternatives are not always available. However given the impending bans it is advisable to consider switching to lower GWP alternatives when making buying new refrigeration or air conditioning equipment.

The relevant amending F-Gas legislation is on the European Commission website.

 

Further Information
The EPA has webpages devoted to this issue.

The European Commission has its own website devoted to this issue.

A series of information leaflets and brochures providing guidance on the regulations are available from 

Email: airquality@dcccae.gov.ie
Phone +353 (0)1 6782000