Taking a more aggressive stand than the rest of the world, the European Parliament has approved a new rule that will phase out the use of HFCs in the EU by 2050 and reduce the EU-wide quota for these f-gases between 2024 and 2049.

The rule also introduces specific phase-out dates for the use of f-gases in sectors where alternatives are “technologically and ecologically feasible,” such as in domestic refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pumps.

The rule – which is based on an agreement reached between the Council of the EU and the Parliament in October 2023 updating the EU F-gas Regulation – received 457 votes in favor, 92 against and 32 abstentions.

“This is a huge victory for the climate for the EU to phase out the use of f-gases, which are already doing serious harm to the planet,” said Bas Eickhout, Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/European Free Alliance and a leading negotiator on the F-gas Regulation, in a Greens/EFA press release.

“Getting rid of these super greenhouse gases will send a clear message to the market that it’s time to switch to greener alternatives,” he added. “This is essential for the climate and good for European industry, which will remain at the forefront of innovation and cleaner products.”

“This is a huge victory for the climate for the EU to phase out the use of f-gases, which are already doing serious harm to the planet.”

Bas Eickhout, MEP for the Greens/European Free Alliance

The rule will now go to a vote in the Council in the coming weeks to formally endorse the texts before being published in the EU Official Journal and coming into force.

We are very happy with this striking majority in the European Parliament, a signal that all of [the EU] is on board with the measures of the provisional agreement reached in October,” said Thomas Trevisan, Deputy Manager for Public Affairs at ATMOsphere, publisher of R744.com. “Once the legal text is public, we will provide our analysis of the agreement, [but] we expect it to substantially support the growth of natural refrigerant-based systems in Europe with spillover effects worldwide.”

EU climate goals

According to the European Parliament, the rule is designed to minimize greenhouse gas emissions in line with EU climate goals, including the European Green Deal and its Fit for 55 package, which aims to reduce EU emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

At the base of these goals sits REPowerEU, which aims to accelerate Europe’s green energy transition while also reducing dependence on Russian fossil fuels. A significant part of REPowerEU involves the widescale deployment of heat pump technologies with a target of installing at least 30 million additional heat pumps across the region by 2030.

While some stakeholders have been critical of the EU F-gas Regulations, saying it would hamper Europe’s heat pump targets, many others believe natural refrigerants are the only future-proof option.

“In a few years, residential heat pumps will be widely used across Europe as an alternative to oil and gas heating in people’s homes and are essential to our energy transition,” said Eickhout in the Greens/EFA statement on the HFC vote. “To guarantee that heat pumps are a truly green alternative to fossil fuels, we must make sure that they are not dependent on the use of climate-killing f-gases.”

An ambitious HFC phase out, as seen with the new EU F-gas Regulation, will ensure that residential heat pump manufacturers will “switch to climate-friendly alternatives in the coming years,” he added.

In recognition of his efforts to advance the adoption of natural refrigerant-based technologies in the European HVAC&R sector, Eickhout was awarded Person of the Year at the ATMOsphere Awards/Europe 2023.

Marc Chasserot, ATMOsphere CEO, presenting MEP Bas Eickhout with the 2023 ATMO Award for Person of the Year.