The new “Chilling Prospects: Providing Sustainable Cooling for All” report outlines recommendations on how to increase access to affordable and sustainable cooling solutions throughout the world. As air conditioning and refrigeration is re-engineered for alternative chemicals, another issue will be to optimize the energy efficiency of cooling equipment to minimize the expected increase in demand for energy.

The report comments that the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol addresses the need to reduce the warming impact of refrigerants and provides for significant reductions over time in the use of HFCs. As [the energy used for] cooling is now responsible for about 10% of [CO2-based] warming and growing rapidly, future choices about refrigerants, the efficiency of cooling technologies, and how cooling is powered will have a significant impact on achieving the Paris Agreement. A key feature of cooling technologies is the traditionally long timeframes required to make significant changes; innovations in equipment occur over years and market adoption of new products with higher first costs—even if offset by lower operating costs—can take time, as well. Changing to lower GWP refrigerants may require manufacturers to redesign cooling products, providing an opportunity to make them more energy efficient, as there is still thermodynamic potential for efficiency improvements. Thus, the phase down of HFCs presents a double opportunity to make a substantial contribution towards the targets of the Paris Agreement.

Access to cooling is also essential for broader economic development. Integrated cold supply chains can enable millions of small rural farmers to transport their products to higher value, more distant markets, increasing their income and prospects for economic success. Refrigeration can also substantially reduce food wastage and make a major contribution to ending hunger.

The report notes that one of the more notable reasons cited for the success of the Montreal Protocol was the early and extensive engagement with the affected industries in the design and implementation of the agreement. The refrigeration and air conditioning industries, along with many others, actively supported the conversion of equipment to new refrigerants, the evaluation of substitutes to limit exceptions for “essential” uses, and the transfer of technology on reasonable terms to developing countries.

Thanks to the Kigali Amendment, the linkages between cooling and climate change have risen considerably on the international agenda. However, cooling is not an issue just for the cooling industry and climate scientists. We have shown that cooling is a development issue and we need to raise awareness much more broadly and integrate cooling into the development debate. The HVAC and refrigeration industry has already shown its commitment and the ability to innovate in response to the Montreal Protocol and it has been a driving force behind the Protocol’s Kigali Amendment. It now needs to stand up and solve the cooling conundrum for those at the base of the pyramid as well as those at the top.

Source : “Chilling Prospects: Providing Sustainable Cooling for All” report, released by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP)