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UNEP’s Action Plan for Cooling Sector Emission Reduction

Context:

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has put forth an action plan outlined in the report “Keeping it Chill: How to meet cooling demands while cutting emissions,” with the goal of significantly decreasing emissions from the global cooling sector. This initiative has the potential to make a substantial impact, foreseeing a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The report’s release aligns with the Global Cooling Pledge, a collaborative effort led by the United Arab Emirates, the host of the Conference of Parties (COP28), in conjunction with the Cool Coalition.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. UNEP’s Action Plan for Sustainable Cooling
  2. Addressing the Significance of the Cooling Sector
  3. Benefits of Sustainable Cooling:

UNEP’s Action Plan for Sustainable Cooling

Passive Cooling Measures:

Recommendations:

  • Advocates the adoption of passive cooling measures like shading, ventilation, insulation, green roofs, and reflective surfaces.
  • Suggests reintroducing nature to urban areas.

Impact on Energy Consumption:

  • Highlights that passive cooling can significantly reduce the reliance on mechanical cooling, leading to energy and emission savings.
Higher Energy Efficiency:

Technological Emphasis:

  • Stresses the importance of adopting higher energy efficiency technologies and practices for cooling equipment such as air conditioners, refrigerators, and fans.

Benefits:

  • Points out that higher-energy efficiency cooling not only reduces energy consumption and emissions but also lowers costs for users and utilities.
Alternative Cooling Substances:
  • Shift from HFCs:
    • Advocates for the use of alternative substances like hydrocarbons, ammonia, or carbon dioxide instead of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
  • Impact of HFCs:
    • Describes HFCs as potent greenhouse gases with super-pollutant properties, capable of trapping heat hundreds to thousands of times more than carbon dioxide.
  • Phase-Down Initiative:
    • Urges a faster phasedown of climate-warming refrigerants and air conditioning under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
  • Reducing Direct Emissions:
    • Highlights that low-global warming potential refrigerants can contribute to the reduction of direct emissions from cooling devices.

Addressing the Significance of the Cooling Sector

Importance of Cooling Sector:
  • The cooling sector is vital for mitigating rising temperatures, ensuring food safety, supporting industrial processes, and fostering productive economies.
Challenges Without Intervention:

Electricity Consumption and Emissions:

  • The growing demand for cooling equipment could result in a substantial increase in electricity consumption and emissions.
  • The cooling sector currently constitutes 20% of global electricity consumption.
  • Without intervention, the installed capacity of cooling equipment globally could triple, leading to a more than twofold increase in electricity consumption by 2050.
  • This scenario could contribute to emissions between 4.4 billion and 6.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2050, accounting for over 10% of projected global emissions.

Benefits of Sustainable Cooling:

  • Economic Savings:
    • Passive cooling techniques and efficient cooling equipment can save consumers USD 17 trillion between 2022 and 2050.
  • Power Requirements Reduction:
    • Sustainable cooling is projected to reduce peak power requirements by 1.5-2 terawatts (TW), avoiding substantial power generation investments.
  • Emission Reductions:
    • Increasing the adoption of low-global warming potential technologies and managing refrigerant life cycles can reduce HFC emissions by 50% in 2050.
    • Decarbonizing the power grid can further reduce sectoral emissions by 96%.

-Source: Down To Earth


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