Europe Braces for Massive F-Gas Cuts in 2018

By Catherine Witherspoon, ClimateWorks Foundation

In 2014, the European Parliament approved a 15-year phase-down of F-gases.  The first step was cutting economy wide production by 7% (on a CO2 equivalent basis).  Next year is more drastic:  in 2018, F-gas production is capped at 63% of the baseline level.  Moreover, since imported appliances are included, the effective cap is 48% for domestic producers.  The EU policy was based on careful technical analysis and was meant to inspire ambitious action under the Montreal Protocol.  Unfortunately, it has become an outlier per the US’s unwillingness to keep pace, and per the Kigali Amendments’ protracted 45-year schedule.  Industry is already pressing EU member states for relief.  Unless Europe and California (its next closest rival) hold the line, we could lose all the existing momentum toward leap-frog technologies.  So far, regulatory officials are holding firm.  But the recent five-fold increase in refrigerant prices, anticipated product shortages, and potential business failures (particularly for SMEs) will test their mettle to the nth degree.