Stabilising EU emissions of fluorinated GHG could be a low-cost option

A study into the costs of stabilising and reducing emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases (GHGs) has concluded that emissions could be stabilised at 1995 for as little as euros 5 per tonne (of CO2 equivalent).

Further reductions would cost more – about euros 30 per tonne – although the study’s authors emphasise that information on emission abatement options is incomplete and that further research is likely to uncover more low-cost solutions.

Economic evaluation of emission reductions of HFCs, PFCs and PF6 in Europe is part of a series of studies undertaken by the European Commission to assess how the EU can meet its Kyoto commitments in the most cost-effective manner.

The study confirms that in 1995 fluorinated GHGs accounted for only 1.8% of all European GHG emissions, and predicts that if no measures are taken this figure will rise to 3% of EU GHG emissions by 2010. The proportionate rise will largely be the result of growth in HFCs – the chemicals which are increasingly used as substitutes for ozone-depleters being phased out under the Montreal Protocol (see related story).

Although the study argues that abatement options for fluorinated GHGs already appear to be cheaper than those for CO2 reduction – and therefore should be given priority under the EC’s ‘least cost’ approach to meeting Kyoto – there are likely to be more options for reducing emissions than are currently known. The researchers list the following as applications in need of urgent, further study to discover emission reduction options:

  • aerosols
  • solvents
  • metered dose inhalers
  • a variety of “poorly characterised sources of SF6 and PFCs”

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