Ecolabeling for Air Conditioners Would Support India’s Cooling Policy Goals, Study Finds
A recent CLASP study found that expanding India’s ecolabeling program to address the cradle-to-grave environmental impacts of air conditioners could spur market transformation in the carbon-intensive cooling sector.
India’s Ecomark label was established in 1991 as a voluntary framework to help consumers identify environmentally superior products based on a lifecycle analysis approach. Since then the ecolabel has been used to highlight the sustainability of a wide range of products including paper, textiles and electronic equipment, but overall participation in the labeling program has been low.
CLASP partnered with Environmental Design Solutions to assess the potential to apply the Ecomark label to cooling appliances and to expand its use more broadly. Stakeholder consultations confirmed significant interest within the Bureau of Indian Standards and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the two agencies with primary responsibility for the label, to cover additional products, as well as support for expansion among manufacturers, industry groups and other stakeholders.
Establishing ecolabeling criteria for ACs could support market transformation toward environmentally preferable products. Demand for cooling products in India is projected to grow rapidly over the next 20 years, and the analysis found potential for an ecolabel to gain broad support and transition from voluntary to mandatory participation over time. Efficiency policies for ACs implemented by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency have significantly reduced electricity use among new products on the market, and ecolabeling could address additional aspects of product sustainability, especially related to ozone-damaging refrigerants and end-of-life disposal.
The new analysis also found several opportunities to improve the overall effectiveness and impact of the Ecomark label. The report recommends that policymakers incorporate existing sustainability-related policies into new ecolabeling criteria, while also factoring in other product impacts including resource use and human health and safety.
It also recommends that the program: harmonize ecolabeling requirements with international laws and standards to support exports of ecolabeled products; include technical training and data sharing to support industry engagement; and be funded at a level that adequately supports program development and compliance needs, with potential for self-funding through fees as the program matures and expands.
Read the ecolabeling study, learn more about India’s most recent efficiency standard for cooling appliances, or review additional CLASP research on India’s appliance ownership, usage and policy development.