EU and international commitments

It was agreed in the Kyoto Treaty that industrial countries must reduce their emissions during the period 2008–2012 by an average of 5.2% based on 1990 emission levels. This includes the greenhouse gasses carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and a number of fluorine compounds of which SF6 is one.

In Europe, SF6 has been banned from numerous applications (including window glazing, tennis balls and sport shoes) under the previous review of the EU F-Gas Regulation in 2014. However, as only a few alternatives to the use of SF6 gas in medium and high voltage switchgear were available on the European market, the EU legislator deemed that the use of SF6 should be still allowed under the F-gas Regulation.

The current state of technologies indicates that SF6-free alternatives for such switchgear are now available on the market. This should lead to a legal ban of SF6 on all applications where alternatives are available. The development and use of SF6-free technologies should be stimulated by government policy as well.

Kigali Amendment on a global HFC phase-down

The F-gas Regulation anticipated a global phase-down of the consumption and production of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer.

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which will bring about a global phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), will take effect in January 2019.

The Kigali Amendment was agreed in October 2016 by the 197 Parties to the Montreal Protocol, in order to gradually reduce global production and consumption of HFCs. Developed countries will go first, but developing countries also take on firm reduction commitments in the medium term.

Implementation of the agreement is expected to prevent up to 80 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent of emissions by 2050, which will make a significant contribution to the Paris Agreement objective to limit the global temperature rise to well below 2°C.

EU F-Gas Regulation

The original F-gas Regulation, adopted in 2006, has been  replaced by a new Regulation adopted in 2014 which applies from 1 January 2015. The current F-gas Regulation has as its main objective to cut the EU’s F-gas emissions by two-thirds by 2030 compared with 2014 levels. This Regulation introduces the following changes:

  • It limits the total amount of the most important F-gases that can be sold in the EU from 2015 onwards and phasing them down in steps to one-fifth of 2014 sales in 2030. This will be the main driver of the move towards more climate-friendly technologies;
  • It bans the use of F-gases in many new types of equipment where less harmful alternatives are widely available, such as fridges in homes or supermarkets, air conditioning and foams and aerosols;
  • It prevents emissions of F-gases from existing equipment by requiring checks, proper servicing and recovery of the gases at the end of the equipment's life.

In 2020 the European Commission shall publish a report assessing whether cost-effective, technically feasible, energy-efficient and reliable alternatives exist, which make the replacement of F-gases possible in new medium-voltage secondary switchgear and new small single split air-conditioning systems. Furthermore, it shall submit, if appropriate, a legislative proposal to the European Parliament and to the Council to amend the list set out in Annex III of the Regulation, i.e. to ban the use of these F-gases in the above-mentioned applications.

Green switching supporters

The following organisations are supporters and contributors to the Green Switching Forum.