A Global Pledge to Cut Cooling Emissions by 2050

Cooling is essential for human well-being and development, especially in a warming world. It enables people to cope with extreme heat, preserve food and vaccines, enhance productivity and digital connectivity, and reduce food loss and waste. However, cooling also has a significant environmental impact. The refrigerants used in cooling devices, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), are potent greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. The energy consumption of cooling appliances, such as air conditioners and refrigerators, accounts for about 20% of global electricity use and 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If cooling demand continues to grow as projected, it could triple by 2050 and add more fuel to the climate fire.

To address this challenge, a global initiative has been launched to reduce cooling-related emissions by at least 68% by 2050. The Global Cooling Pledge, announced at the United Nations climate summit COP28, is the world’s first collective focus on the cooling sector. It aims to provide equitable access to climate-friendly cooling solutions, while avoiding the use of harmful refrigerants and improving the energy efficiency of cooling devices. The pledge is led by the COP28 Presidency held by the United Arab Emirates, in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and its Cool Coalition, a network of governments, companies, civil society groups, and international organizations working on sustainable cooling.

A Global Pledge to Cut Cooling Emissions by 2050
A Global Pledge to Cut Cooling Emissions by 2050

How the Global Cooling Pledge works

The Global Cooling Pledge is a voluntary commitment that invites countries and non-state actors to take action on five key areas of sustainable cooling:

  • Nature-based solutions: using natural features, such as trees, green roofs, and water bodies, to provide cooling benefits and enhance urban resilience.
  • Super-efficient appliances: promoting the adoption of the most efficient cooling devices, such as fans, air conditioners, and refrigerators, that use less energy and low-global warming potential refrigerants.
  • Food and vaccine cold chains: ensuring the availability and affordability of cold storage and transport for food and vaccines, especially in developing countries and rural areas, to reduce food loss and waste and improve health outcomes.
  • District cooling: developing and expanding the use of district cooling systems, which provide cooling services to multiple buildings from a centralized plant, using renewable energy sources and waste heat.
  • National Cooling Action Plans: developing and implementing national strategies and policies to address the cooling needs and challenges of each country, in alignment with the Paris Agreement and the Kigali Amendment.

The pledge also encourages the signatories to report on their progress and share best practices and lessons learned. The pledge is supported by a range of tools and resources, such as the Cooling Stocktake report by UNEP, which assesses the current state of action and gaps on sustainable cooling, and the Cool COP Menu of Actions, which provides a list of concrete actions and initiatives that can be taken by different stakeholders to advance the cooling agenda.

Who has joined the Global Cooling Pledge so far

The Global Cooling Pledge has received a positive response from various countries and organizations, who have expressed their interest and support for the initiative. Some of the notable signatories include:

  • China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of cooling appliances, which has committed to phase out HFCs and improve the energy efficiency of cooling devices, as well as to promote green and low-carbon cooling solutions, such as district cooling and nature-based solutions.
  • India, which has one of the fastest-growing cooling markets, which has launched the India Cooling Action Plan, the first comprehensive national cooling strategy in the world, which aims to reduce cooling demand, refrigerant use, and cooling energy requirements by 20-25% by 2037-38.
  • The United States, which has recently rejoined the Paris Agreement and the Kigali Amendment, which has pledged to cut its HFC emissions by 85% by 2036, and to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency, including for cooling.
  • The European Union, which has been a leader in regulating and reducing the use of HFCs, which has set ambitious targets for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050, which will require a significant improvement in the energy efficiency of cooling devices and systems.
  • The Cool Coalition, which has mobilized over 100 partners from various sectors and regions, which has committed to doubling the energy efficiency of cooling appliances and reducing the climate impact of refrigerants by 80% by 2030.

Why the Global Cooling Pledge matters for the future

The Global Cooling Pledge is a timely and important initiative that can make a significant difference in the fight against climate change and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. By reducing cooling-related emissions, the pledge can help limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C, the goal of the Paris Agreement, and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, such as more frequent and severe heatwaves, droughts, floods, and storms. By providing access to sustainable cooling solutions, the pledge can also improve the lives and livelihoods of billions of people, especially in developing countries and vulnerable communities, who face the risks of extreme heat, food insecurity, and poor health. By fostering innovation and collaboration, the pledge can also create new opportunities and markets for green and low-carbon cooling technologies and services, which can boost economic growth and job creation.

The Global Cooling Pledge is a clear demonstration of the global commitment and momentum for sustainable cooling, which is essential for a cooler and safer future for all.

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