Green cooling appliances and equipment can save up to $2.9 trillion in energy use by 2050, and help avoid 0.4° C warming of the planet
The first-ever global coalition on clean and efficient cooling was launched at the First Global Conference on Synergies between the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement, which concluded on April 3, 2019, in Copenhagen, Denmark.
As the world gets warmer, the demand for air conditioners is projected to grow and the greenhouse gas it emits will endanger the planet.
Clean, efficient cooling appliances and equipment can save up to $2.9 trillion in energy use by 2050, and help avoid 0.4° Celsius warming of the planet, said the United Nations-backed ‘Cool Coalition’ comprising 23 members.
Besides the UN, it is supported by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL). It includes government officials from Chile, Rwanda, Denmark as well as leaders from civil society, research and academia.
Safe food, safe vaccine and comfort at work
As incidence of heat waves emerges with regular and alarming frequency affecting the health and well being of people, this new global effort aims to provide all with sustainable cooling at a scale that would ensure safe food, safe vaccine and comfort at work.
“Demand for cooling is growing, as it must if we are to provide equitable access to a technology that keeps our children healthy, vaccines stable, food nutritious and economies productive,” said Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of UN Environment, and a key leader of the coalition.
“But we also can’t allow emissions to get out of hand. The Cool Coalition offers a three-in-one opportunity to cut global warming, improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people and make huge financial savings.”
Warming world calls for global action
Throughout the world, 2018 was the fourth hottest year, preceded by 2017, 2015 and 2016. The India Meteorological Department (IMD), too, warned that the season average maximum temperatures from April to June are likely to be warmer than normal by 0.5 degree Celsius.
With increasing incomes and urbanisation, number of air conditioning units across the globe is set to increase from 1.2 billion to 4.5 billion by 2050, and India alone may account for one billion units.
In the next 20 years, India's cooling requirement will increase by eight times, with air conditioners alone consuming more than half of the total energy required for cooling in the country by 2037-38.
According to an International Energy Agency (IEA) report, the global stock of air conditioners in buildings will grow to 5.6 billion by 2050, up from 1.6 billion today — which amounts to 10 new ACs sold every second for the next 30 years.
Coalition to identify solutions, mobilise action
The Global Cool Coalition is a unified front that links action across the Kigali Amendment, Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. It is expected to inspire ambition, identify solutions and mobilise action to accelerate progress towards clean and efficient cooling.
It will complement and build upon ongoing successful programmes to advance clean and efficient cooling, including, the Cooling for All Secretariat, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme, private sector action like the Global Cooling Prize, and other initiatives.
A welcome development
“This is a welcome development, as it recognises the importance of cooling not only as a carbon emission and development issue but as a larger social equity issue,” said Avikal Somwanshi, programme manager, sustainable cities programme at the New Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment.
India has already developed a national cooling action plan that was launched by the Union environment ministry on March 8, 2019. The plan acknowledges that "there is an immense potential to rationalise the rise in requirement for active refrigerant-based cooling in the country by adoption of passive cooling design strategies across sectors.”
“Wider proliferation of thermally efficient built spaces that have reduced heat load is required inter alia using insulation, shading, and enhanced natural ventilation, to reduce requirement of active-cooling. This reduced cooling demand then needs to be met using the energy efficient and climate-friendly technologies,” notes the plan.
“It is important to talk about cooling but to what extent. We are living in a world where we are forced to layer-up to keep warm in our buildings even in the peak summer. We need to make sure that this agenda doesn’t get hijacked by the air-conditioning industry, and to do so we need to define what is comfortable in a given climate and region. We need to start looking at adaptive comfort and not just cooling,” added Somwanshi.
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