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In a significant win for climate action and air quality, several countries attending the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France, pledged to take immediate steps to improve energy efficiency in the cooling sector while phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)— commonly used refrigerants that have a global warming potential thousands of times that of carbon dioxide.
Efficient, clean cooling for all underpins many Sustainable Development Goals and represents an opportunity to avoid substantial climate and air pollutant emissions.
Emissions from cooling are set to be one of the fastest growing as incomes in developing countries rise, temperatures increase and global cooling demand soars. Energy use from refrigeration and cooling is expected to rise by 90 per cent from 2017 levels by 2050, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to a third of all current emissions. The increased emissions from more energy production will impact air quality and add to the climate crisis.
This is why France, in the context of the G7 Presidency, has given very high visibility to the need for energy efficiency improvements in the cooling sector, first, through the Efficient Cooling Initiative, launched at the G7 Environment Ministers’ meeting and co-led by Japan, France, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), and now with the Biarritz Pledge for Fast Action on Efficient Cooling that was initiated at the G7 Summit.
During his press conference with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, French President, Emmanuel Macron, highlighted the “efforts to promote cleaner and more efficient cooling systems to support the Kigali amendment on HFCs”. He announced the launch of the “mobilization of all States, and a work of expertise to engage our economies in the reduction of these industries and gases”. He concluded by saying “This mobilization will begin in the G7 and India's engagement with us is essential in this regard” and invited other countries to join these efforts.
The Biarritz Pledge for Fast Action on Efficient Cooling aims to transform the global cooling sector and lower emissions by coordinating efforts to improve the energy efficiency of air conditioners and other cooling equipment, in parallel to the phase down of HFCs, thus maximizing the climate benefits of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The energy savings are significant. A 30 per cent improvement in the energy efficiency of room air conditioners can save enough energy to avoid building up to 2,500 500MW peak power plants by 2050.
With this pledge, countries agree to undertake ambitious measures such as the development of national cooling plans, the use of energy performance standards (MEPS) and labelling, the promotion of the use of good servicing practices, the use of state’s bulk purchasing power and relevant measures, to facilitate market access for highly efficient and affordable cooling technologies with low-or-zero global warming potential, to encourage private sector involvement, and to call on support from financial institutions and funds to mobilize additional funding for activities beyond those covered by the Montreal Protocol and Kigali Amendment.
The Pledge also calls on support to the “Efficient Cooling Initiative of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and related initiatives”. The CCAC’s Efficient Cooling Initiative brings together governments, intergovernmental organizations, and the private sector to facilitate high-level political leadership and collaboration among stakeholders to raise awareness, trial and improve efficient cooling technologies, and promote the solutions needed.
Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the UN Environment hosted Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat said: “In a warming world cooling is not a luxury. We need clean and efficient cooling for safe food, safe vaccines and to protect millions of people from heat stress. Increased efficiency puts us on a pathway to cleaner air and a safer climate. We look forward to working with all countries through our Efficient Cooling Initiative to ensure the necessary steps are taken to transform the cooling sector.”
Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development said: “There are few actions as big or fast as the climate mitigation we can get from the cooling sector. If we fail, most of the remaining carbon budget will be devoured by air conditioning as the world tries to stay cool in the face of more frequent, longer, and hotter heat waves. This would be planetary malpractice.”
The objective is now to further expand the support to this pledge and to present it, in addition to cooling commitments made with the Cool Coalition, at the upcoming UN Climate Action Summit in New York, on the 23rd of September. For this Summit, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres is calling on all leaders to come to New York with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.
National governments, local governments, businesses, the financial sector and civil society groups are encouraged to present cooling commitments before and during the UN Climate Action Summit.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition is a voluntary partnership committed to improving air quality and protecting the climate through actions to reduce short-lived climate pollutants like black carbon, HFCs, methane and tropospheric ozone. Its Efficient Cooling Initiative aims to enhance energy efficiency in the cooling sector while countries implement the phase-down of HFC refrigerants under the Montreal Protocol. The Initiative is led by France, Japan, UN Environment, and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, with Rwanda, Nigeria, the World Bank, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, and the United Nations Development Programme.
Tiy Chung, Communications Officer, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. Phone: +33 1 44 37 14 21, Mobile: +33 626 71 79 81, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On the Biarritz pledge, Clarisse Durand, Policy Adviser, Ministry for an Ecological and Solidary Transition, France. Email: Clarisse.DURAND@developpement-durable.gouv.fr
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