HFC phase down in the EU: how it works and exemptions

Details of the phase down of hydrofluorocarbons in the EU, including annual sales quotas and exceptions.

The EU is cutting the availability of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 79% between 2015 and 2030.

Only companies with EU quotas will be able to supply HFCs to the EU market. Find out how to apply for an EU quota to import or produce HFCs and when you can apply for quotas.

HFCs, particularly those with high global warming potentials, are likely to become more expensive.

The HFCs that are being phased down are listed with their global warming potentials in section 1 of the list of F gases regulated by the EU.

Size of the market

From 2009 to 2012 HFC sales in the EU averaged 183 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent a year. That’s the baseline for the phase down.

The CO2 equivalent measure takes into account how much each HFC contributes to global warming. Gases that contribute the most will be most affected by the phase down. Find out how to calculate the CO2 equivalent of different gases.

This table shows what percentage of the HFC baseline will be available to the EU market every year until 2030.

Year % of baseline
2015 100
2016 and 17 93
2018, 2019, 2020 63
2021, 2022, 2023 45
2024, 2025, 2026 31
2027, 2028, 2029 24
2030 21


HFCs are exempt from the phase down and don’t count towards a supplier’s quota if they are sold for use:

  • as feedstocks (ie HFCs used in chemical processes to produce other substances, rather than placed directly in equipment)
  • in military equipment
  • in the etching of semiconductor material
  • in the cleaning of chemicals vapour deposition chambers within the semiconductor manufacturing sector
  • in metered dose inhalers for medicines (eg asthma inhalers), from 2018

These exemptions only apply to HFCs sold directly from a quota holder to the business carrying out the exempted activity. HFCs that are bought or sold by third parties count towards the supplier’s quota, even if they end up being used for an exempted activity.

HFCs imported to the EU for destruction, or exported from the EU in bulk, are also exempt from the phase down.

HFC Registry

An EU HFC registry has been set up to monitor the phase down. You must register with the registry if you’re:

  • a producer or importer with a quota to supply HFCs to the EU market
  • an organisation that has received a transfer of all or part of a quota
  • an organisation receiving HFCs that are exempt from the phase down
  • importing equipment from outside the EU that contains HFCs that haven’t been part of the EU market before

The deadline for registration was 1 July 2014. Register now in the F gas portal on the European Commission website if you haven’t already.

You’ll need to register for a European Commission account to access the F gas portal if you don’t already have an account.

Comply with the phase down

The phase down involves specific requirements for the following types of business:

Published 31 December 2014