Skip to main content

At the current pace, the planet will add 50% more warming to surpass the 1.5°C temperature threshold as early as 2030, making it more difficult for human and natural systems to adapt.

Taking fast, ambitious action to reduce short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs)- methane, tropospheric ozone, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)—can cut the rate of global warming in half and Arctic warming by up to two-thirds.

Aggressive cuts to SLCP emissions can avoid twice the warming that aggressive cuts to CO2 can by mid-century, and deliver multiple benefits for sustainable development and human well-being.

A combined strategy to improve the energy efficiency of cooling equipment while phasing down HFC refrigerants under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol presents one of the biggest mitigation opportunities available today.

Like the strategies for reducing HFCs, the strategies for improving energy efficiency of cooling equipment can be deployed quickly, at scale, and at low cost.

In the climate battle, slow success is no success.

HFCs & Efficient Cooling

The Kigali Amendment will contribute significantly to reducing global warming

Phasing down HFCs has the potential to avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century. The initial phasedown schedule of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which entered into force 1 January 2019, will achieve about 90% of this (see discussion by The Scientific Assessment Panel to the Montreal Protocol in their 2018 Assessment of Ozone Depletion.)

Faster implementation of the Kigali Amendment with the goal of stopping HFC production completely in 2020 would avoid the build-up of “banks” of HFCs embedded in cooling equipment and make an even greater mitigation contribution. Similarly, mitigation would come from capturing the banks of HFCs at product end-of-life by recycling or destroying them.

There are significant climate benefits from linking the phasedown of HFCs with energy efficiency improvements in cooling systems

According to the Montreal Protocol’s Scientific Assessment Panel “improvements in energy efficiency in refrigeration and air-conditioner equipment during the transition to low-GWP alternative refrigerants can potentially double the climate benefits of the HFC phasedown of the Kigali Amendment.”

The August 2019 analysis by the Laurence Berkley National Laboratory further established fast action on HFCs and implementation of best available technology for cooling efficiency can avoid 210–460 GtCO2e by 2060.

LBNL also calculates that just improving the efficiency of room AC by 30% alone could save enough electricity to avoid up to 1,550 medium-size peak power plants.

Estimates from the International Energy Agency project this opportunity has the potential for an accumulated saving of nearly $3 trillion in investment and operating costs by 2050 for AC cooling equipment alone.

Energy efficiency improvements are readily realized for many cooling applications, such as residential ACs and refrigerators, mobile ACs, and commercial refrigeration.

Well-proven policy options to promote energy efficiency include well-designed Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and labels, and the development of National Cooling Action Plans, such as those adopted in China, India, and Rwanda.

International cooperation remains essential for delivering needed climate mitigation

The need to act on HFCs and cooling is being recognized at the highest levels, including with the heads of state and government Biarritz Pledge for Fast Action on Efficient Cooling launched by President Macron of France at the G7, the ministerial-led Efficient Cooling Initiative of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the platform of the Cool Coalition, and the philanthropic collaborative, the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP).