Fluorinated greenhouse gases 2012

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Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Data reported by companies on the production, import and export of fluorinated greenhouse gases in the European Union

Background

Greenhouse gases covered by the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol include amongst others, three groups of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases): hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). These F-gases have very long lifetimes in the atmosphere and high global warming potentials (GWPs).

In 2011, F-gases accounted for approximately 2 % of the EU-27 overall greenhouse gas emissions (1), and this share continues to increase.

The 'F-Gas Regulation' (2) is one of the measures implemented at European Union (EU) level to assure the EU-15 target under the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol to reduce the whole basket of greenhouse gases — including F-gases — by 8 %.

The present report summarises the data reported by companies according to Article 6 of the F-Gas Regulation. This report includes information on the quantities produced, imported and exported, as well as on related data such as the main intended applications of the F-gases. Imports and exports of F-gases contained in products or equipment are not covered by this reporting obligation.

Policy and data review

In 2012, the European Commission made a proposal for a new F-Gas Regulation (3), which would reduce F-gas emissions by two-thirds of today's levels by 2030. This proposal was still under negotiation by the co-legislators (European Parliament and Council) at the time of the drafting of this report.

Looking ahead to the likely requirements of a probable new F-gas policy, the Directorate-General for Climate Action of the European Commission (DG CLIMA) organised an independent review of all data reported from 2007 to 2010. The European Environment Agency (EEA) reviewed the 2011 data. This resulted in a number of data corrections, particularly for exports. The data resulting from the review exercises are taken into account for this report. Therefore, the data related to the years from 2007 to 2011 presented in the present report partly differ from the figures contained in the 2012 EEA F-gas report (4).

Reporting process

In line with changes in the EU institutional arrangements concerning reporting, a new reporting process for the submission of the reports by companies was established in 2012 via the password-protected online Business Data Repository (BDR) at https://bdr.eionet.europa.eu. From the reporting in 2013 — covering reporting year 2012 — the spreadsheet-based reporting tool was replaced by an online questionnaire available to all companies via the BDR. A number of automated quality checks were implemented in the questionnaire to ensure completeness and consistency of the reported data. This automated quality control process was complemented by some additional manual checks.

These modifications to the reporting process resulted in a reduced administrative burden for companies, the EEA, the European Commission and the Member States concerned. The use of the BDR as one single repository for all the deliveries, including for feedback on the data quality, also provides a higher degree of transparency and traceability of all data submissions for the stakeholders involved.

The year 2012 was the sixth reporting year under the F-Gas Regulation. Companies were required to submit F-gas reports covering 2012 by 31 March 2013. The 'sales' parameter used in the 2012 report and previous F-gas factsheets published by the European Commission was replaced in the present report by the 'net supply' parameter, in order to more adequately describe the use of (bulk) F-gases by EU industries.

Findings and trends

The assessment of trends is dependent upon the unit used to express the amounts of F-gases, i.e. physical metric tonnes or GWP-weighted tonnes (CO2.equivalents) (5). Statistics in metric tonnes reflects the use patterns of F-gases in absolute terms, while F-gas usage expressed as CO2-equivalents also reflects the potential relevance for climate change policy.

Most significant findings

The following trends can be observed:

  • The number of reporting companies increased to 129 (up 7 % from last year), mostly due to new importers.
  • The production in the EU is relatively stable at around 150 Mt expressed in CO2-equivalents.
  • The export of F-gases significantly increased between 2009 and 2011, and then stagnated in 2012. Expressed in CO2-equivalents, the export of F-gases during the last two years were at their highest levels since reporting started in 2007.
  • The import of F-gases decreased sharply between 2011 and 2012 (. 8 % expressed in metric tonnes and . 10 % expressed in CO2-equivalents). This is in line with the declining trend since the peak year 2010.
  • The net supply (6) for F-gases expressed in CO2.equivalents for 2012 is very similar to that for 2011 and 2009, while 2010 was clearly a peak year. A similar trend is seen for the HFC net supply evolution.
  • SF6 significantly contributes to production, export and net supply when expressed in CO2.equivalents.

Data on the intended applications of F-gases is incomplete. However, the available information shows a number of trends. The following findings on intended applications are expressed in CO2-equivalents and are organised in order of importance:

  • Use in refrigeration and air conditioning (HFCs) is by far the major intended application of F-gases. It remained constant in the last two years and is at the lowest level since the reporting started in 2007.
  • Use in electrical equipment (SF6) remained constant in 2012 after a 50 % increase in 2011. Quantities for 2011 and 2012 are only slightly below the 2008 peak levels.
  • Aerosol use (HFCs) showed an almost 40 % year.on-year increase between 2011 and 2012, which brings the quantities to the 2009 level following the drastic decrease between 2010 and 2011.
  • Use in fire protection (HFCs) showed a significant year-on-year decrease between 2011 and 2012 of 46 %, but was still above the 2008.2009 levels.
  • Use in foams (HFCs) has strongly declined over the years and is now at 27 % of 2007 levels.

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