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Fluorinated Greenhouse Gas

​BREXIT implications for ODS and F-Gas contractors

The following is an important notice for individuals and companies certified by UK bodies to operate with Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and Fluorinated Gas (F-Gas).

The ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by the EU and the UK ensured that it entered into force upon the UK's exit from the EU at 11pm on 31 January 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement ensures an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. It covers citizens' rights, the financial settlement, a transition period, protocols on Ireland/Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Gibraltar, governance and other separation issues.

The transition period will last until 11pm on 31 December 2020. During the transition period the UK will continue to apply EU law which includes the F-Gas Regulation. This includes the mutual recognition of UK certificates in the EU-27. At the end of the transition period, mutual recognition will no longer remain for UK certificates within the EU-27.

If you are affected by these changes and want to remain certified after 31 December 2020, you must take action as set out in this BREXIT FGas Notice.

The Minister has signed further regulations on 30 October 2019, and subsequently 31 January 2020, to take into account development in the negotiations regarding the UK's withdrawal. The Regulations signed by the Minister on 31 January 2020 extend the application process for individuals to apply to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to 31 December 2020. The relevant regulations for the recertification scheme are SI 367 of 2019, SI 534 of 2019 and SI 32 of 2020

Given the recurrent renewal nature of the company certification process and access to EU-27 certification bodies, it has been decided not to extend the application process for companies and hence the regulations underpinning this application process expired at 11pm on 31 January 2020.  Companies certified by a certification body in the UK may continue to enjoy the benefit of mutual recognition of that certification with the EU-27 until 11pm on 31 December 2020.

Information seminars about the requirements were held at seven venues around Ireland during August and September 2019. The presentation given at the seminars can be accessed here​.


 

Notice to Applicants for ODS and F-Gas Certification/Attestation

As a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic there will be a delay in processing applications from contractors applying to the Environmental Protection Agency for a training certificate or attestation. Nonetheless, contractors should not delay applying and should continue to submit them as normal. We apologise for this delay and the EPA will endeavour to process applications when it returns to normal. Please note that as the transition period is in place, all existing UK certifications will continue to be recognised up until 23:00 on 31 December 2020. We anticipate that all applications will be processed well in advance of this deadline. We will update this notice in due course to provide further updates on this situation.


 

Fluorinated greenhouse gases

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