Keeping cool at CoP27 in Egypt – thanks to ‘shocking’ use of climate-wrecking refrigerant gases

As global leaders and delegates bake under the desert sun in Egypt at the UN CoP27 climate summit, EIA can reveal that the air-conditioning keeping them cool is using refrigerant gases which are highly damaging to the climate.

The EIA team at Sharm El-Sheikh has uncovered use of the climate-wrecking hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in cooling equipment from major equipment manufacturers at the site of the 27th Conference of the Parties (CoP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Canisters of HFC-410A and HCFC-22 at CoP27 (c) EIA

Companies have been accused of greenwashing at the event and Johnson Controls, which has installed 150 large air-conditioning units at CoP27 which run on HFCs, is the latest – yet in the lead up to last year’s climate summit in Glasgow, the firm joined the UN-backed Race to Zero committing to halve emissions by 2030 and to reach net-zero by 2040.

EIA Climate Campaigner Sophie Geoghegan said: “It’s shocking to see a company with net-zero commitments installing new equipment using HFCs with such high global warming impacts at this year’s important climate conference, especially as energy-efficient alternatives using climate-friendly natural refrigerants are available.”

EIA estimates that the climate impact of the refrigerant in these 150 systems equates to more than 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That’s equivalent to almost 4,700 people flying economy class between London and Cairo.

HFCs are being globally phased down under the Montreal Protocol. Although developing countries have until 2024 to freeze their consumption, fast-acting measures are needed to control rapid growth in HFC demand.

Geoghegan added: “This is a major company greenwashing its climate credentials while installing new HFC equipment at the event – but at least some of the ice-cream and cool drinks equipment in the venue is using natural refrigerants.

“Looking ahead, next year’s CoP should showcase a broad range of climate-friendly cooling solutions.”

EIA has approached Johnson Controls for comment, but has yet to receive a response.