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Nations pledge to cut cooling emissions by 68% by 2050

cooling emissions pledge Reuters/Costfoto/NurPhoto
An air conditioner factory in China: Such equipment uses 20 percent of global electricity today
  • Global Cooling Pledge signed at Cop28
  • Emissions predicted to surge by 2050
  • Mena warming twice global average

More than 60 countries have backed a pledge at Cop28 to cut air conditioning and related emissions by 68 percent of 2022 levels by 2050.

They did so as a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found that global cooling capacity will treble by then.

The Global Cooling Pledge marks the world’s first collective focus on energy emissions from the cooling sector, which includes the air conditioning, refrigeration and other related industries. 

The pledge is a joint initiative between the Cop28 UAE presidency and lobby group the Cool Coalition, which consists of 26 countries that work to provide fair access to cooling to protect people against extreme heat. 

Around 30 percent of the world’s population is exposed to “life-threatening” high temperatures for at least 20 days a year and these numbers will increase as the planet warms, the coalition says. 

The Middle East and North Africa region is particularly vulnerable to climate change and is warming on average twice as fast as the global average. 

UNEP’s report published on Tuesday predicts that as installed cooling capacity trebles by 2050, global cooling emissions will surge to between 4.4 billion and 6.1 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by that year.

That would equate to one-tenth of anticipated additional global emissions and strain electric grids. Cooling equipment represents 20 percent of total electricity consumption today and is expected to more than double by 2050, according to the report.

However, global efforts to curb cooling emissions could prevent the release of up to 78 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent, it added. 

“As temperatures rise, it is critical we work together to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions from the cooling sector while increasing access to sustainable cooling,” Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber said. 

“This access is especially important for the most vulnerable communities.”

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