Global efforts to mandate the use of climate-friendly refrigerants and make cooling systems more efficient could avoid nearly eight years’ worth of carbon emissions, according to new research.
Citing peer-reviewed analysis by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), The Guardian reports that a global embrace of the Kigali Amendment to ban climate-killing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) “could help avoid up to 0.4°C of global warming by the end of the century.” [And trigger more—Ed.] The Kigali Amendment is an addition to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer that was ratified by 65 countries in 2018.
“Doubling the energy efficiency of air conditioning by 2050 would cut electricity use by 1,300 GW, the equivalent of all the coal-fired power generation capacity in China and India in 2018, saving up to US$2.9 trillion in electricity costs,” adds The Guardian.
With an estimated 3.6 billion cooling appliances currently in use globally—demand that is projected to rise sharply as the climate continues to heat—the need to double down on non-HFC air conditioners is imperative, writes the UK news outlet. If the current production of fossil-driven cooling appliances continues, “a vicious circle of global heating” will arise.
“More efficient air conditioning would have other benefits too,” notes The Guardian, including “better access to life-saving cooling equipment for medicines and vaccines, improved air quality, and reduced food loss and waste.”
The UNEP/IEA report urges governments to recognize how addressing the climate impacts of cooling can dovetail with ongoing policy efforts to counter the social and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Climate-friendly cooling could help protect the natural environment and even reduce the risk of future pandemics while preventing runaway carbon emissions,” the UK-based paper writes, citing UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.