green cooling initiative: Refrigerants

»Promoting green cooling worldwide«

Policy instruments: refrigerants

Policy instruments aiming at controlling the use of refrigerants with a high ozone depleting potential (ODP) or global warming potential (GWP)

Bans of refrigerants

A ban restricts the use of certain refrigerants, for example depending on their GWP.

Examples: The EU will ban refrigerants with a GWP above 150 in mobile air conditioners in passenger cars from 2017 onwards. HCFCs are banned completely in the EU. The revised F-Gas regulation also bans refrigerants above a certain GWP with a set timetable for phase-down.


Quotas limit the amount of certain refrigerants within a country or a specific refrigeration or air conditioning sector within the country. Quotas can refer to production, import/export or consumption. Import/export quotas are often preferred because they are easier to implement. Often, the overall allowed amounts of refrigerants will then be allocated among the different industrial stakeholders. Phase-down means that the distributable allowances will be reduced over time to certain, previously set levels.

Examples: Quota systems have been introduced in the course of the HCFC phase-out under the Montreal Protocol, in China amongst others. The European F-Gas-Regulation introduces a phase-down schedule which limits the total amount of HFCs that can be placed on the market in the EU.

Leakage controls and certified personnel

In order to limit the leakage of refrigerants, the system operators may be subject to regular controls or obliged to monitor leakage rates. The proper use and servicing of appliances typically limits the leakage as well as improves energy efficiency. It can be useful to oblige system operators to employ qualified and certified personnel for use and maintenance of certain applications.

Example: In the EU, countries must establish certification and training programmes for personnel involved in leakage inspections as well as the recovery, recycling, reclamation and destruction of fluorinated gases.

Destruction regulations

Refrigerants that are toxic or have a high ODP or GWP may need to be extracted at the end-of-life of the equipment. They then may need to be properly stored, reclaimed or destroyed. Take back schemes can secure proper treatment of recovered F-gases. They are likely to be more effective if neither the servicing company returning the gas nor the producer has to pay a fee. Such schemes could be funded via taxes on import and production on F-gases.

Example: Some European countries have voluntary take-back schemes for certain applications, e.g. for heat pumps in Belgium, or for recovered bulk F-gases, e.g. in the Netherlands.


To limit the global warming and ozone depleting impact of refrigerants used in cooling appliances, many countries have introduced mandatory reporting regarding the use of refrigerants and the operation of systems and appliances (e.g. amounts of refrigerants imported, exported, used during production or servicing).

Example: In Canada, HFC refrigerant manufacturers and suppliers have to report all HFCs that were imported, exported, or manufactured if over the amount of 100 kg in any calendar year from 2008 to 2012. Canada will use this information to establish whether to impose any restrictions.