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Efficient and climate friendly cooling is a crucial piece of the climate and sustainable development puzzle. There are an estimated 3.6 billion cooling appliances in use globally today, and that number is growing by up to 10 devices every second. This growth is set to increase the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, further warming the planet. Air conditioners are a double burden. In most cases, they use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), extremely potent greenhouse gases, and require significant energy to run. Without policy intervention, direct and indirect emissions from air conditioning and refrigeration are projected to rise 90 per cent above 2017 levels by the year 2050.
This report lays out ways to resolve this dilemma by delivering efficient and climate friendly cooling for all – in particular by rapidly phasing down hydrofluorocarbons in the cooling sector and delivering cooling more efficiently through more efficient equipment and more efficient buildings. By combining energy efficiency improvements with the transition away from super-polluting refrigerants, the world could avoid cumulative greenhouse gas emissions of up to 210-460 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) over the next four decades, depending on future rates of decarbonisation. This is roughly equal to 4-8 years of total annual global greenhouse gas emissions, based on 2018 levels.