Ozone-depleting substances: higher EU ambition to reduce emissions 

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  • Continued efforts to restore and protect the ozone layer 
  • Tighten the control of exempted uses and tackle illegal activities  
  • Improve clarity and coherence with other rules 

Environment MEPs adopted their position to further cut down emissions of substances that damage the ozone layer, in line with the European Green Deal and international agreements.

On Wednesday, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted a report on the revision of the measures addressing ozone-depleting substances (ODS) with 74 votes in favour, none against and 2 abstentions.

Increased efficiency of existing measures

MEPs support the Commission proposal which confirms that the production, sale, use, imports and exports of ODS are not allowed. Strict exemptions are foreseen for the use of ODS to produce other chemicals (as feedstock) and as process agents, in laboratories and for fire protection in special applications such as military equipment and airplanes.

According to the adopted text, MEPs introduce a rolling review mechanism (by 1 January 2025 and every 2.5 years thereafter) requiring the Commission to assess the availability of alternatives for ODS used as feedstock and propose measures to further cap or phase out such uses where alternatives exist.

In order to improve control and monitoring of ODS as well as reduce potential adverse environmental and health impacts, MEPs want that the rules related to leakages and registration in the licensing system should be extended to all ODS covered by the EU legislation (including to those not covered by the Montreal Protocol, listed in Annex II).

Improved enforcement and stricter penalties

The review clarifies the role of customs authorities and market surveillance authorities in implementing the rules and strengthens their powers to prevent illegal trade of ODS. It also aims to align the new rules with those on the protection of the environment through criminal law (currently under revision). In their proposals, MEPs seek to avoid the overlap between administrative and criminal penalties for serious infringements.

MEPs wish that the Commission should publish its implementation report by 1 January 2030 (three years earlier than foreseen by the proposal), with a focus on the availability of alternatives for ODS where an exemption is in place and on fighting illegal trade.

Quote

Rapporteur Jessica Polfjärd (EPP, SE) said: “The prevention of emissions from ozone-depleting substances is key to preventing adverse health and environmental effects resulting from a damaged ozone layer and to contribute to greenhouse gas savings in line with the Union’s climate target. I am happy that we could agree today, across the political groups, and support an ambitious and balanced proposal to continue making efforts to improve and restore the ozone layer.”

Next steps

The report is scheduled to be adopted during the 29-30 March 2023 plenary sitting and will constitute Parliament’s negotiating position with EU governments on the final shape of the legislation.

Background

Ozone-depleting substances are human-made chemicals that, once emitted, reach the upper atmosphere and destroy the protective ozone layer. They have significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment and are greenhouse gases with high global warming potential. Such substances include halons (used in fire extinguishers), methyl bromide (to control pests) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (used in fridges and air conditioning systems).

Even if the EU has already achieved its phase-out goals under the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer under existing legislation, ODS emissions need to be cut further to comply with the goals of the European Green Deal, the 2030 and 2050 targets set by the EU Climate Law and the Paris Agreement.