Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases - Information

What are fluorinated greenhouse gases?

Fluorinated greenhouse gases (or F-gases) are man-made gases comprising sulfur hexaflouride (SF6) and the families of gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs). 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 are required to control and reduce emissions of F-Gases.

The use of F-gases has grown 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, attributable to 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.

The phasing out of CFCs, for the purpose of complying with the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, has also been a factor in increased use of HFCs. 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, though emissions of PFCs and SF6 are subject to some fluctuation in the semiconductor industry in particular, reflecting 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 can be found on their website.

We have implemented the European rules with our own legislation. These regulations designated 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 Regulation

A review carried out by the European Commission concluded that there was potential to deliver significant emission reductions if the F gas regulation was further improved and fully applied.  Furthermore EU policy aims to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and F-gases can play an important role.

A new EU F-gas Regulation was published in 2014. The new Regulation aims to cut the EU’s F-gas emissions by two-thirds by 2030 compared with 2014 levels, contributing 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 and encouraging  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 facilitate the use of equipment for its useful life and to recognise that alternatives are not yet available for all applications.

We are currently examining our current national regulations to see if any revisions will be required to bring them in line with the new EU rules.

Further information

Further Information