Efficient and climate friendly cooling is a crucial piece of the climate and sustainable development puzzle. We need cooling to protect vulnerable populations from heatwaves, keep vaccines viable and food fresh, and workforces productive. It is essential for equity and development, especially as climate change raises global temperatures. The global pandemic has emphasized just how important cooling is to society, with many stuck indoors in hot climates during lockdowns and global cooling infrastructure essential to storing and delivering an eventual vaccine.
There is, however, an important catch. There are an estimated 3.6 billion cooling appliances in use globally today, and that number is growing by up to 10 devices every second. This growth will increase the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, further warming the planet. Air conditioners are a double burden. In most cases, they use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), extremely potent greenhouse gases, and require significant energy to run. Without policy intervention, direct and indirect emissions from air conditioning and refrigeration are projected to rise 90 per cent above 2017 levels by the year 2050. This report lays out ways to resolve this dilemma by delivering efficient and climate friendly cooling for all – in particular by rapidly phasing down hydrofluorocarbons in the cooling sector and delivering cooling more efficiently through more efficient equipment and more efficient buildings.
The UN Environment Program recently released a comprehensive Report: Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report. The Report is designed to help raise awareness about one of the most critical and often neglected climate and development issues of our time.