Climate-friendly cooling could cut years of Greenhouse Gas emissions
By Ikenna Omeje
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has said that coordinated international action on energy-efficient, climate-friendly cooling could avoid as much as 460 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (roughly eight years of global emissions at 2018 levels) over the next four decades.
This is according to the Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The report stated further that, “reductions of between 210 and 460 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions can be delivered over the next four decades through actions to improve the cooling industry’s energy efficiency together with the transition to climate-friendly refrigerant.”
Consequently, UNEP urged countries to institutionalise many of these actions by integrating them into their implementation of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Signatories to the Kigali Amendment have agreed to reduce the production and use of climate-warming refrigerant gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which has the potential to avoid as much as 0.4°C of global warming by 2100 through this step alone.
The Executive Director, UNEP, Inger Andersen said, “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. This is critical to minimising 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. Efficient, climate-friendly cooling can help to achieve all of these goals.”
Other highlights of the report are; the importance of cooling to maintaining healthy communities, fresh vaccines and food, a stable energy supply, and productive economies. The essential nature of cooling services is underlined by the Covid-19 pandemic, as temperature-sensitive vaccines will require quick deployment around the globe; lockdowns forcing people to stay at home for long periods of time are a health concern in many hot countries.
The report however, notes that increasing demand for cooling is contributing significantly to climate change. This, it said, is the result of the emissions of HFCs, CO2, and black carbon from the mostly fossil fuel-based energy that powers air conditioners and other cooling equipment.