02 Jun 2016

The future of air conditioning

Phasing down super pollutants for a healthier planet

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The December 2015 historic Paris agreement sent a clear signal that the world is taking climate change seriously. Speed is now the new imperative for climate mitigation.

Phasing down the use of hydrofluorocarbons – powerful greenhouse gases – is among the fastest ways to limit carbon in the atmosphere. One of the best opportunities to address rising emissions of HFCs is surprisingly straight-forward – making air conditioners more efficient and climate-friendly.

CIFF and partners have assembled a team of experts to help governments and industry around the world, including in India and China, to increase the energy efficiency of air conditioners in parallel with the phase-down of super-polluting HFC refrigerants.

We have agreed a new grant of $12.8 million to support this work. This complements CIFF’s support over the past several years to phasing-down superpollutant HFCs and strengthening climate protection under the Montreal Protocol.

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The new grant was announced at the Clean Energy Ministerial as part of the Advanced Cooling Challenge launch. This global campaign challenges governments, companies and other stakeholders to develop and deploy at scale super-efficient, smart, climate-friendly and affordable cooling technologies that are critical for prosperous and healthy societies.

Air conditioning places a significant burden on energy systems. Energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions from air conditioners are projected to accelerate to unprecedented levels in the coming decades (the number of air conditioners worldwide is set to increase from 900 million units at present to over 2.5 billion units by 2050).

Click here to listen to Durwood Zaelke of the Institute of Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD) on the impact of inefficient air conditioning and HFCs.

Improving by 30% the average efficiency of air conditioners in use globally by 2030 could reduce emissions by up to 25 billion metric tons of CO2 over the lifetime of the equipment and reduce peak electricity demand by as much as 340-790 gigawatts. This is equal to erasing the annual emissions from 1,550 coal-fired power plants.

This investment will help support a step change in the global air conditioning market by unlocking policy change, manufacturing power, and finance. By supporting global advocacy and technical assistance in countries such as India and China, we are aiming to catalyse this unprecedented shift in the room air conditioning sector. This includes not only phasing out the HFC refrigerants with high-climate impact, but at the same switching to more efficient technologies.

We are proud to be working with the IGSD and other key supporters of this work – the US Department of Energy and ClimateWorks – to address this important issue and contribute to the global phase-down of HFCs.

CIFF has been a major global funder of advocacy action to achieve a rapid and ambitious global phase- down of HFCs via the Montreal Protocol, which could reduce warming by up to 0.1C in 2050.