Sustainable cooling technologies

The cooling sector is a key driver of climate change that is often overlooked. Sitting at the heart of sustainable development, cooling is essential for food, vaccines, comfort, productivity, data centres, hospitals and much more.

The problem

Greenhouse gas emissions from the cooling sector are expected to grow substantially in the coming decades. With rising temperatures and populations, we are installing more and more air-conditioning and refrigeration, contributing to further global warming in two ways – by increasing demand for electricity and through increased emissions of refrigerant greenhouse gases, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).


Sustainable cooling is critical for both climate mitigation and climate adaptation.


Fortunately, the environmental impact of cooling can be reduced by replacing fluorinated gas refrigerants with climate-friendly natural refrigerants, improving the energy efficiency of cooling, reducing cooling loads and deploying renewable energy. The use of climate-friendly refrigerants is often described as the ‘low hanging fruit’ of the climate change battle, as energy efficient alternative technologies exist and are increasingly being deployed. Coupling energy efficiency with the HFC phase-down can significantly increase the climate benefits of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.


  • Double

    Marrying energy efficiency to the refrigerant transition could

    double the climate benefit
  • 0-3

    The global warming potentials of CO2, hydrocarbons and ammonia range from 0-3. These are

    natural alternatives to HFCs
  • 5.6 billion

    The number of air-conditioners is forecast to be 5.6 billion by 2050, that’s

    triple the global stock of today

Moving Forward

At CoP28 in 2023, 66 countries signed the Global Cooling Pledge committing to reduce cooling-related emissions by at least 68 per cent from 2022 levels by 2050, with specific measures to address climate damaging refrigerant gases and to ratify the Kigali Amendment.

EIA is working to level the playing field for HFC-free technologies by addressing barriers to their uptake (including standards and training), working with key end users of HFCs such as supermarkets and campaigning for greater corporate accountability in the refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump sector. This includes avoiding the uptake of so-called ‘climate friendly’ 4th generation fluorochemical refrigerants, hydroolefins (HFOs), which are linked to significant climate and environmental concerns, in particular PFAS pollution.

From 2009-17, EIA produced seven reports under the Chilling Facts campaign, calling on UK and European supermarkets to clean up their cooling by shifting away from systems using HFCs and undertaking measures to improve energy efficiency, such as putting doors on fridges. EIA has also worked closely with the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) to develop and implement two refrigeration resolutions, which call on its 400 members in the retail, manufacture and service provider sectors to install only natural refrigerants or low-GWP alternatives to HFCs in new refrigeration equipment.

To highlight the benefits and availability of F-gas-free and efficient cooling products on the global market, we have published a Product List for Net-Zero cooling and a database of HFC-free equipment on our Cool Technologies website.