Rising global temperatures and growing income levels in the developing world are driving a boom in demand for cooling which is highly energy intensive and has a significant negative impact on climate. To counteract that, we are campaigning to ensure cooling systems are not only HFC-free, but are as efficient as possible. Coupling energy efficiency with the HFC phasedown can significantly increase the climate benefits of the Kigali Amendment.
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.
In most cooling systems, the bulk of the climate impact comes from electricity use, as much as 60-80 per cent, depending on the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the refrigerant used and how prone the 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 impacts on the climate, pollution levels and the electricity grid, it is vital that cooling systems are as efficient as possible. The current refrigerant transitions under the Montreal Protocol are an opportunity to simultaneously address efficiency issues, reaping a double climate benefit.
The difference we’ve made
The roll out of HFC-free systems across the commercial refrigeration sectors is partly driven by the substantial energy efficiency gains and climate co-benefits obtained from HFC-free systems. In the case of natural refrigerants, the focus on system design has resulted in state-of-the-art systems, many demonstrating significant energy efficiency gains with associated cost savings.
Our 6th Chilling Facts report drew attention to the major energy savings supermarkets can achieve simply by putting doors on fridges. Energy to drive refrigeration usually accounts for about half of a supermarket’s carbon footprint. Adding doors is by far the biggest refrigeration-related energy-saving measure a retailer can take, resulting in average reductions of about 33 per cent. Yet many supermarkets are reluctant to take this simple step due to unsubstantiated fears of reduced sales.
Energy efficiency has been explicitly recognised by the Parties to Montreal Protocol in decisions taken at the 2016 Kigali Meeting of the Parties in conjunction with the HFC amendment decision.
During 2018, members of the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund, the financial arm of the Montreal Protocol, will be developing cost guidelines for the HFC phase-down. These guidelines will consider guidance “associated with maintaining and/or enhancing the energy efficiency of low-GWP or zero-GWP replacement technologies and equipment.” The Parties to the Montreal Protocol are also considering energy efficiency, with a number of reports and workshops planned in 2018.
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 will be working closely with like-minded organisations to showcase examples of energy efficiency gains in new HFC-free equipment, including through our Cool Technologies website. 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.
How you can help
Think before you buy and use air-conditioning – do you really need it? Do you need to use it as often as you do? If buying, avoid HFCs (check the label or ask the supplier) and buy the most energy-efficient equipment. Switch off when not needed and keep the temperature setting as near as is comfortable to the ambient temperature. If you have to put a jumper on to go into your room, the setting is too low! You can also support our work promoting better energy efficiency.