Sustainable cooling technologies

All around the world, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems have long relied on using climate-damaging fluorinated refrigerants. The ongoing phase-out of HCFCs in developing countries and the newly adopted global HFC phase down offers opportunities to adopt energy efficient climate-friendly alternatives. Coupling energy efficiency with the HFC phase-down can significantly increase the climate benefits of the Kigali Amendment.

The problem

Cooling systems such as refrigeration and air-conditioning have two aspects to their climate impact: Direct Emissions from refrigerant leakage and Indirect Emissions from the energy used to power the system.

Indirect emissions can contribute as much as 60-80 per cent of the climate impact, depending on the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the refrigerant and how prone to leakage it is.

As global temperatures rise alongside income levels in the developing world, the demand for air-conditioners is set to explode. To ensure this demand can be met without devastating climate impacts, it is vital that cooling systems are as sustainable as possible. The current refrigerant transitions under the Montreal Protocol are an opportunity to simultaneously address efficiency issues, reaping a double climate benefit.

We are working to encourage countries and businesses to adopt future-proof, sustainable, climate-friendly technologies.

  • Double

    Marrying energy efficiency to the refrigerant transition could double the climate benefit

  • 0-3

    The global warming potentials of CO2, hydrocarbons and ammonia, natural alternatives to HFCs

  • 5.6

    billion. The number of air conditioners forecast by 2050, triple the global stock today.

Moving Forward

Energy efficiency has been explicitly recognised by the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in decisions taken at the 2016 Kigali Meeting of the Parties in conjunction with the HFC amendment decision.

We are advocating the development of appropriate measures under the Multilateral Fund and the Montreal Protocol that will support energy efficiency improvements without undermining the primary responsibility of the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs.

We are working to level the playing field for HFC-free technologies by addressing barriers to their uptake and sharing information with governments, manufacturers, end users and other stakeholders. We are also working to raise awareness of the dual benefits of efficient HFC-free technologies. While upfront costs for new climate-friendly technologies can still be higher than for HFC technologies, improved efficiency can cover those costs in a matter of years. It’s a win-win.

We will be working closely with like-minded organisations to showcase examples of energy efficiency gains in new HFC-free equipment. We are a member of the Green Cooling Initiative, a project promoting the use of natural refrigerants. To highlight the benefits and availability of HFC-free, energy 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.