"COOLING" IS THE MAIN CAUSE

OF GLOBAL WARMING

27%

of all global warming will be due to the gases emitted from air conditioning by the year 2050. 

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4,000x

Current cooling technologies with HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) generate greenhouse gases up to 4,000 times more harmful than CO2. Along the way they use large amounts of electricity and release enormous amounts of heat. 

What technology is used today?

Cold generation devices used in today's refrigeration and air-conditioning systems operate using principles based on vapor compression, absorption and evaporation. This technology was first developed in the early 1900s and essentially has not changed since.

Disadvantages of such cooling devices include:

Vapor compression: involves the use of an intermediate working fluid as a refrigerant and results in significant emissions of thermal energy into the atmosphere;
Evaporation: inefficient, highly dependent on the humidity of ambient air;  
Vortex: low efficiency, results in thermal emissions to the atmosphere.

 

Since the introduction of the first air conditioning systems manufacturers have used different types of refrigerants. The first were chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a compound which turned out to dangerously deplete the earth's ozone layer. These were replaced in the 1980s by hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), a somewhat less ozone-depleting refrigerant but one still problematic. In recent years hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have taken the place of HCFCs and although they don't hurt the ozone layer, they pose an equally serious threat to the planet because they are "super-greenhouse gases"- compounds with a GWP (Global Warming Potential ) that is 1000 to 3000 times higher than that of CO2. HFCs and several other man-made compounds with high GWP values have been specifically targeted for elimination from residential, commercial and industrial use in an international agreement known as the Kyoto Protocol.

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HFC-based cooling is obsolete

85%

of all HFC-based devices must be replaced by 2035

Montreal Protocol / Kigali Amendment - HFC phase down Requirements

Why do we need better cooling?

33x

US

2050

Cold has quietly become a part of 21st-century life, certainly in advanced economies: people expect air conditioning to make homes, offices and cars comfortable (and many cities habitable); most food in the developer world is chilled or frozen; medicines, including vaccines, need refrigeration; industries such as steel, chemicals and plastics depend on cooling; deprived of cold, data centres – and the internet – would collapse in minutes.

Over the next 15 years, according to the EU, the energy used to cool buildings across Europe is likely to increase by 72%, while the energy used for heating them will fall by 30%.

 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that demand for residential air conditioning alone will rise from 300 terawatt hours a year in 2000 to 4,000 in 2050 and 10,000 by 2100.

According to Computer Weekly, data centre power consumption quadrupled from 2007 to 2013, and is set to nearly double again over the next 15 years.

Research by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency predicts that by about 2060, the amount of energy used worldwide in cooling will overtake that used in heating.

Worldwide power consumption for air conditioning alone is forecast to surge 33-fold by 2100.

By mid-century people worldwide will use more energy for cooling than heating.

The USA uses as much electricity just to keep buildings cool as the whole of Africa uses on all electricity needs.

Role of cold in food security

1.3B tons 

As much as 1/3 of all food is lost or wasted between harvest and home

800M

+50%

Halving food waste would feed 800 million of the      1 billion chronically undernourished people in the world (International Institute of Refrigeration)

Global food demand is set to grow by 50% by 2050

(UN Food and Agriculture Organisation)

"95% of agricultural research is about increasing yields. Reducing waste should be a priority, and cold really is the key. But cold done smartly. If we just replicate the old technologies, we’re heading for environmental disaster."

Toby Peters
International Institute of Refrigeration

The world needs significantly more refrigeration resources because as much as a third of all food is lost or wasted between harvest and home, mostly in the developing world. Losses amount to about 1.3 billion tons per year. Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production down to final household consumption. 
 
Food losses actually represent a waste of the resources used in their production (namely, the land, water, energy and other inputs) and result in a needless increase in green gas emissions.
 
According to a report by the energy consultancy E4tech, small diesel-powered refrigerators on food trailers emit on average nearly 30x times more harmful particulate matter and six times more nitrogen oxides than the engines that power the trucks.
 
The last point above matters because the world needs significantly more refrigerated food trailers. With the world’s population forecast to reach 9 billion by 2050, cold’s role in food security will be key.

 

(Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organisation)