ClimateWiseCooling: Advancing Sustainable Cooling in a Warming World
By Ana Maria Carreño, Senior Manager at CLASP
We are half way through what is likely to be the warmest year on record. As temperatures rise with summer in the global north and a pandemic reshapes our daily lives, many of us will rely on cooling to help keep our families and communities safe, healthy and productive. Access to space cooling and refrigeration is not just a matter of comfort: Sustainable Energy for All estimates that more than a billion people worldwide are highly vulnerable to a lack of cooling that threatens their health and safety, food supply, and medical care.
In my ten years of working at CLASP, the pace of investment and targeted actions to enhance sustainable cooling access, central to achieving a more equitable world, has increased significantly. There is also a growing recognition of how multi-faceted the cooling challenge is and the need for greater collaboration to bring a diversity of insights and approaches to the table.
Over the coming weeks, CLASP and partners will host an online dialogue among leaders from government, industry, NGOs, donors and other organizations that are building a path to equitable and sustainable cooling solutions. We invite you to join us on Twitter and LinkedIn at #ClimateWiseCooling, and tune in to panel discussions on model energy performance standards and product dumping for deeper conversations about the path forward.
The Cooling Imperative for People & the Planet
As access to cooling expands, its environmental impact must shrink in order to avoid the catastrophic effects of a warming climate. Air conditioners and fans already account for 10% of global electricity consumption, and cooling is expected to become a top driver of global electricity demand between now and 2050. Improving cooling efficiency will be key to countries’ ability to meet their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement and, in the longer term, move toward net-zero emissions. Efficient cooling paired with a transition to low global-warming-potential refrigerants will be necessary for the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to succeed in reducing the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons by 80% by 2047.
Many governments are setting and reaching ambitious efficiency policy goals – embracing national climate targets, defining and revising energy performance standards for cooling equipment, or developing national cooling actions plans. In China, world-leading energy efficiency standards for room air conditioners proposed last year could avoid 480 MT of CO2 emissions in 2030 if adopted worldwide, nearly equivalent to the entire CO2 emissions of Indonesia. In Vietnam and Thailand, highly efficient technologies like inverter air conditioners that had single-digit market penetration five years ago are becoming mainstream thanks to progressive cooling policies. In Rwanda, the government released a National Cooling Strategy with a roadmap to provide equitable access to cooling while preserving the country’s green growth pathway.
Energy efficiency policies and consumer-directed product labeling continue to be among the most cost-effective means to limit greenhouse gas emissions. A new report evaluating the impacts of India’s energy efficiency activities shows that efficiency policies avoided 45.7 MT of CO2 emissions in Fiscal 2018-19, with cooling appliances making up 62% of those cuts.
Countries that do not update their cooling policies are at risk of becoming dumping grounds of inefficient cooling equipment – expensive to repair and operate, and frequently containing high-global-warming-potential refrigerants that can escape into the atmosphere. There is already a policy gap between countries with larger markets and world-leading policies, and developing economies with smaller markets: only 18% of countries in Africa have developed or implemented energy efficiency standards or labels for cooling appliances, and CLASP research has found evidence that environmentally harmful dumping of cooling equipment is already occurring in the region. Energy efficiency policy is a tool for regulators to protect markets and support broad access to high-performing products.
Partners & Solutions
No single approach will solve the cooling challenge, which is why countless stakeholders are working to design and implement diverse solutions. Through our #ClimateWiseCooling initiative, we will highlight some of the strategies and successes of those leading the way. Regulating indoor temperatures through effective building techniques, reducing cost barriers to the best technologies, and curbing demand with policy instruments or through consumer education are among the approaches that are making a dent in cooling sector emissions. Global tools like SEforALL’s Cooling for All Needs Assessment and its forthcoming Solutions Assessment Toolkit
enable stakeholders to track their cooling needs and link them with solutions that support vulnerable groups. Other innovative approaches, like the Global Cooling Prize, are pushing the boundaries of what is possible: the competition to develop radically more efficient, climate-friendly residential cooling has identified eight novel technology approaches that could potentially transform the high-demand appliance.
Over the next two months we’ll be sharing these stories and more on social media and through online events. I look forward to connecting with you about #ClimateWiseCooling.
Ambitious National Cooling Policy: Development and Implementation of Model MEPS. Tuesday, 16 June 2020, 7 am PDT/10 am EDT/5 pm EAT
This panel discussion will introduce model minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for air conditioners and refrigerators that were developed by United for Efficiency for use by policymakers. The model MEPS offer a cost-effective approach to enhance availability of highly-efficient technologies and limit inefficient products in markets where adopted. Panelists will discuss the process to define the model MEPS, considerations for policymakers seeking to adopt the regulation, and other benefits for developing and emerging economies, with opportunities for audience questions.