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Cooling sector emissions could be drastically reduced by 2050

By adopting key measures, we could slash 60 percent of the predicted emissions from the cooling sector, according to a new report published during the COP28 climate talks in Dubai.

The Global Cooling Watch report, authored by the UN Environment Programme-led Cool Coalition, could lead to a significant shift in how we approach the cooling sector’s environmental impact.

The cooling crisis

The cooling sector is currently at a crossroads. On one hand, it’s essential for human health, food safety, and economic productivity. On the other, it’s a significant contributor to global emissions. 

The report highlights the gravity of the situation: cooling equipment accounts for 20 percent of total electricity consumption, and this figure could more than double in the next couple of decades.

The report states that, under a business-as-usual scenario, emissions from cooling are predicted to account for more than 10 percent of global emissions by 2050.

Sustainable cooling

The report introduces a sustainable roadmap for the cooling sector, which emphasizes three key strategies:

Passive cooling measures

These include insulation, natural shading, and ventilation, potentially reducing cooling demand by 24 percent in 2050.

Energy efficiency standards

Tripling global average efficiency could deliver 30 percent of the modeled energy savings.

HFC refrigerants

In line with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the accelerated phase down of HFC refrigerants could halve these emissions by 2050.

Global Cooling Pledge

A pivotal aspect of the report is its support for the Global Cooling Pledge, a joint initiative between the United Arab Emirates and the Cool Coalition. 

Over 60 countries have committed to this pledge, emphasizing the urgent need to reduce the climate impact of the cooling sector.

Improving energy efficiency

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President, stressed the importance of improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions in the cooling sector, particularly for vulnerable communities.

“As temperatures rise, it is critical that we work together to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions from the cooling sector while increasing access to sustainable cooling. This access is especially important for the most vulnerable communities, who have often contributed the least to climate change but are the most exposed to its impacts,” said Dr. Al Jaber.

Low-carbon cooling growth

Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP, said thar the cooling sector must grow to protect everyone from rising temperatures, maintain food quality and safety, keep vaccines stable, and keep economies productive.

“But this growth must not come at the cost of the energy transition and more intense climate impacts. Countries and the cooling sector must act now to ensure low-carbon cooling growth. Fortunately, the solutions are available today.”

“Getting energy efficient, sustainable cooling right offers an opportunity to cut global warming, improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people, and realize huge financial savings,” said Anderson.

Economic and humanitarian aspects

The report outlines the substantial benefits of following its recommendations:


3.5 billion more people could benefit from cooling services by 2050.


Potential savings of $1 trillion in electricity bills by 2050 and a cumulative $17 trillion between 2022 and 2050.


Reduction in peak power requirements by 1.5 to 2 TW, avoiding up to $5 trillion in power generation investments.

Broader implications 

For the cooling sector’s transformation, comprehensive approaches are needed. This includes integrating sustainable cooling in national policies, enhancing financial mechanisms, and fostering public-private partnerships.

The Global Cooling Watch report is more than a set of guidelines – it’s a blueprint for a sustainable future. 

“The private sector has a huge role to play in financing and driving innovation to advance sustainable cooling, which can help fulfill vital local development needs and support global carbon reduction targets,” said Makhtar Diop, managing director, International Finance Corporation.

“We are pleased to contribute to the Global Cooling Stocktake Report and to support the Global Cooling Pledge.”

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