The new UNEP report Lessons from a decade of emissions gap assessments states that despite a decade of increasing political and societal focus on climate change and the milestone Paris Agreement, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have not been curbed, and the emissions gap is larger than ever. The reports notes that reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) is another area that is attracting attention due to their significant short-term warming influence on the climate and that one significant development is the phasedown of HFC use and associated emissions as a result of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which could reduce global hydrofluorocarbon emissions by 0.7 GtCO2e per year by 2030, and by up to 2.7 GtCO2e per year by 2050. Additional indirect CO2 mitigation is likely through parallel improvements in the energy efficiency of refrigeration and air-conditioning appliances and equipment.

Improved energy efficiency of RACHP equipment during the transition to lower GWP solutions is necessary. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition in its Biarritz Pledge agree to undertake immediate actions to improve efficiency in the cooling sector while phasing down HFC refrigerants as per the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The UNEP led Cool Coalition – a global network connecting over 80 partners from the private sector, government, cities, international organizations, finance, academia and civil society works to expand access to cooling while reducing the climate impact. The cooling challenge has been referred to as a “blind spot” in climate action, which must increase at least fivefold to keep the global temperature rise this century to 1.5°C. By taking forward an unprecedented and coordinated surge of activity to make efficient, climate-friendly cooling accessible for all, the Cool Coalition is responding to the UN Secretary-General’s call for accelerated climate action and has announced a huge push on efficient, climate-friendly cooling.

AREA recently launched its Vision 2025 plan with one objective to support the general decarbonisation of the HVAC&R industry by promoting energy efficiency through system design and life-cycle assessments, complementary to EPEE’s commitments towards sustainable cooling including its CountOnCooling campaign with a white paper, describing important steps to deliver sustainable cooling.

A recent report (August 2019) titled ‘Benefits of Energy Efficient and Low-Global Warming Potential Refrigerant Cooling Equipment’ from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory discusses the global impact of a transition to lower GWP refrigerants and improved energy efficiency on overall emissions ‘We quantify the GHG benefits implementing aggressive but economic energy efficiency measures (about 30% more efficient than current technology) in air-conditioning (AC) and large commercial refrigeration equipment (CRE) together with low-GWP refrigerants. Shifting the 2030 world stock of room ACs and CRE from current levels of energy-efficiency and high-GWP refrigerants to “economic” energy efficiency levels and low-GWP refrigerants would avoid up to 240.1 GT CO2e by 2050 and shifting to “best-available technology” energy efficiency levels and low GWP refrigerants would avoid up to 373 GT CO2e by 2050 with existing electricity grid emission factors. About two-thirds of this cumulative savings are from reduced electricity sector emissions from improved energy efficiency. Thus, it is highly beneficial to pursue high energy efficiency in concert with the transition to lower GWP refrigerants to achieve maximal GHG reductions with the least amount of equipment re-design and replacement.’

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