Cooling technologies

Climate

All around the world, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems have long relied on using climate-damaging fluorinated refrigerants. The phase-out of HCFCs in developing countries and the HFC phase down in developed countries offers opportunities to adopt energy efficient climate-friendly alternatives. We campaign to spread awareness of these alternatives and their multiple benefits, giving end users the choices they need to do the right thing.

The problem

The global cooling sector is changing. Currently, air-conditioning and refrigeration around the world predominantly relies on fluorinated refrigerants, which are being phased down or phased out altogether due to their impact on the ozone layer, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), or their impact on the climate, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

As the Montreal Protocol works to reduce damaging Ozone-Depleted Substances and HFCs, climate- and ozone-friendly technologies are becoming more widespread and commercially viable.

We are working to encourage countries and businesses to adopt future-proof sustainable climate-friendly technologies, rather than opting for refrigerants with lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) which are being marketed by the chemical industry as medium-term solutions but will ultimately also need to phased out.

The difference we’ve made

Backed by powerful chemical companies, fluorinated refrigerants have dominated the Montreal Protocol landscape since its inception. Initially denying the impact of CFCs on the ozone layer, Dupont and other CFC producers eventually supported global legislation, doubtless spurred by the enormous business opportunity from marketing an entirely new set of chemicals to replace the CFCs.

This resulted in a global transition to HCFCs and then to HFCs and now the same industry is marketing a plethora of ‘lower-GWP’ HFCs, which are still hundreds to thousands of times more damaging to the climate than CO2 but are not quite as bad as the HFCs they are replacing.

Fortunately, there are green cooling alternatives in natural refrigerants such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, water and hydrocarbons. These naturally occurring refrigerants have zero or very low GWP and are also showing energy efficiency gains compared to their HFC and HCFC alternatives.

Cooling technologies

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Moving forward

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 a member of the Green Cooling Initiative, a project promoting the use of natural refrigerants. We also partner with Greenpeace in the Cool Technologies website, a searchable database providing case studies of non-fluorinated alternatives to HFCs.

A new and improved Cool Technologies website was launched in 2018. The website is a routinely updated, searchable database of sustainable cooling and refrigeration from around the globe. The database is full of information about manufacturers and users of HFC-free cooling equipment relying on natural refrigerants and other sustainable cooling technologies. It also provides information pertaining to the energy savings of the equipment.

How you can help

The move away from HFCs is already well under way. By understanding what is available and working well for others, you can make the best choice for the climate. If you are a manufacturer of HFC-free cooling technologies, make sure you’re included in our Cool Technologies website. Also, you can help support our work to promote climate-friendly cooling technologies.