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European HFC emissions fall

EUROPE: A switch to low GWP refrigerants and efforts to reduce leakage resulted in a fall in HFC emissions in Europe in 2015, halting huge increases since 1990.

While overall EU greenhouse gas emissions increased by 0.5 % in 2015, the latest figures from the European Energy Agency reveal a drop in fluorinated gas emissions amongst the 28 EU member states. The HFC reduction is mainly thanks to the refrigeration and air conditioning industry which accounts for 82% of all HFC emissions.

HFC emissions amounted to 108 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2015 down from 113MtCO2e the previous year. 2015 was the final year before the European F-gas phase down began.

It is also worth noting that HFCs still represent only around 2.5% of total EU GHG emissions.

The refrigeration and air conditioning sectors recorded emissions of 97MtCO2e, down 5MtCO2e on 2014. Most notable were the efforts by Spain, where the government now applies hefty taxes on HFC refrigerants. The second largest emitter behind France in 2014, Spain reported a reduction of 45% in 2015  from 14,192ktCO2e to 7,7,45ktCO2e. It now stands sixth behind France, UK, Italy, Germany and Poland in terms of emissions.

Ireland, Finland and Denmark, were the next best performers behind Spain, all recording 8% decreases.

Refrigeration and Air conditioning contributions to HFC emissions HFC emissions from refrigeration and air conditioning were about 36 times higher in 2015 than in 1995. France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK are responsible for 61% of total emissions

The largest increases in HFC emissions compared to the previous year were reported by Czech Republic (7%), Hungary (31%), Latvia (9%), Romania (20%) and Slovakia (13%).

Total GHG emissions

Overall EU GHG emissions increased by 0.5 % in 2015 compared with 2014, following a 4% decrease the previous year. This increase was attributed mainly to road transport and the residential sector.

In 2015, total GHG emissions increased by 23MtCO2e to reach 4,310MtCO2e. It was the first increase since 2010.

Despite its efforts with HFCs, Spain, along with Italy and the Netherlands accounted for the largest increases in GHG emissions, in absolute terms in 2015. In contrast the UK reported the largest decrease of 19.4MtCO2e. The lower GHG emissions in the UK were mainly attributed to the liberalisation of energy markets and the subsequent fuel switch from oil and coal to gas in electricity production.

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