Catalyzing increased access to sustainable and efficient cold chains is one of the Efficient Cooling Initiative’s four key campaigns for 2020 and 2021.
One-third, or 1.3 billion tons, of all the food produced for human consumption is lost each year. The FAO estimates that the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is approximately 4.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) emissions annually — greater than the annual emissions from all countries in the world, excluding China and the United States. The lack of adequate cold chains is responsible for about 9% of lost production of perishable foods in developed countries and 23% in developing countries, with approximately 1 GtCO2e directly attributable to insufficient cold chains. Improving cold chains could prevent 19–21 Gt of CO2e emissions cumulatively through 2050.
The role of cold chains has become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to climate friendly cooling, both for space cooling and vaccine cold chains. Cooling interventions can deliver both short-term emergency needs, and long-term economic recovery, while contributing to sustainable development, reducing emissions of pollutants, and increasing resilience to health crises and climate change. Addressing the cooling challenge will also help strengthen collaboration across policy, government and technical silos and build resilience to future shocks.