Dump Fuel-hungry AC Units to Cut Years of Emissions and Save Trillions: UN Report
New York (United Nations) – A wholesale switch to efficient, “climate-friendly” appliances could make a huge dent in environmentally harmful emissions, says a new UN report released on Friday.
According to the UN, access to cooling is essential to maintaining healthy communities, helping to keep food fresh, and economies productive. It has added importance during the current pandemic, making lockdown bearable during periods of hot weather.
However, many air-conditioning units emit carbon dioxide, black carbon and Hydrofluorocarbons (which have thousands of times the warming potential of carbon dioxide), and increasing demand for cooling is contributing significantly to climate change.
The Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report, from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), shows that up to 460 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – roughly the amount produced over an eight-year period – could be cut over the next four decades by making air conditioners twice as efficient as they are now: by 2050, it would be possible to save the amount of electricity produced by all the coal-fired power stations in China and India in 2018, saving up to $2.9 trillion.
This action would make a significant contribution towards getting on track to limiting the overall global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is critical to minimizing the disastrous impacts of climate change, says the study.
Nations should seriously consider the move, as they plan their economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, said Inger Andersen, the Executive-Director of UNEP: “they have an opportunity to use their resources wisely to reduce climate change, protect nature and reduce risks of further pandemics. Efficient, climate-friendly cooling can help to achieve all of these goals”.