UN Report: Climate-Friendly Cooling Could Cut Years of GHG Emissions

Energy-efficient, climate-friendly cooling could prevent up to 460 billion metric tons of GHG emissions over the next 40 years.

United Nations HQ in New York.

International action to make cooling appliances more energy efficient and climate friendly could prevent as much as 460 billion metric tons of GHG emissions – roughly equal to eight years of global emissions at 2018 levels – over the nexy four decades, according to a new report from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

More specifically, the report says reductions of between 210 and 460 billion metric tons of CO2e emissions can be achieved in the next 40 years through actions to improve the energy efficiency of cooling systems anda trasition to climate-friendly refrigerants, the report says. Such efforts woukd contribute significantly to achieving the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

“Nations must deliver massive cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions to get on track to limit global temperature rise this century to 1.5°C (2.7°F)," said Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director.  "This is critical to minimizing the disastrous impacts of climate change."

“As nations invest in COVID-19 recovery, they have an opportunity to use their resources wisely to reduce climate change, protect nature and reduce risks of further pandemics," Andersen added. "Efficient, climate-friendly cooling can help to achieve all of these goals."

The Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report, which was released on July 17, states that there are currently 3.6 billion cooling appliances in use, and that up to 14 billion will be needed by 2050, if all cooling needs are to be met.

The report states that  countries that have ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol can institutionalize many of the actions needed for the implementation of  the amendment;  fully implemented, the amendment has the capability of preventing up to 0.4°C (0.7°F) of global warming by 2100.

In the report, the IEA estimates that if we are able to double the energy efficiency of air conditioning units, by 2050 we would reduce the electricity need by 1,300GW at peak demand. For comparison, that amount is equal to “all the coal-fired power generation capacity in China and India in 2018,” according to UNEP and IEA.

Focused action on energy efficiency will also bring many other benefits, according to the report. These include increased access to life-saving cooling, improved air quality, and reduced food loss and waste.

Some of the policy options available are:

  • Ratification of the Kigali Amendment, and international initiatives like the Cool Coalition and the Biarritz Pledge for Fast Action on Efficient Cooling.
  • The creation of National Cooling Action Plans
  • Development and implementation of minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) and energy labeling.
  • Development and improvement of building codes to reduce the demand for refrigerants and mechanical cooling.
  • Sustainable cold chains to reduce food waste.
  • Campaigns to stop harmful product dumping of obsolete technology to developing markets.

You can read the full (peer reviewed) report here.

Read the cover story on the redefinition of Clean Cooling from the latest issue of Accelerate here.

By Tine Stausholm (@TStausholm)

Jul 20, 2020, 11:44

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