Green cooling at COP25

A growing number of recent studies and reports witnesses the increasing attention toward the topic of cooling over the last 2 years – taken up by governments and businesses  too in view of COP25, including 26 countries committing to a number of pledges related to cooling.

From the research perspective, the issue should be seen from a variety of angles and actually offers a number of different challenges in western and emerging countries, as we discussed with a panel of experts during the COP25 side event* we co-organized: “Green Cooling: Meeting the SDG Gaps” last Monday 2nd in Madrid. 

The 6 speakers offered a glimpse on their latest research to help create an integrated view of the main challenges at stake for policy. [Download all the ppt of the side event -25 MB]

In rich countries, adoption of AC vary widely and it is particularly interesting to study trends and determinants in the European countries, where the adoption rate is still relatively low if compared to Japan (91%) and the US (90%). In these European countries we can see a s-shaped relationship between CDDs and cooling with the adoption rate ultimately depending on how hot a country is.

Each country also exhibits peculiar characteristics of its own, which are summarised in our blog post and detailed in our related press release. Our main messages from this study are that dedicated policies capable of increasing people’s attitude towards energy saving practices and environmental consciousness are important. Also, our strong results on urbanization raises the question of which potential institutional/infrastructural/behavioural barriers could arise towards the improvement of insulation of the existing stock of buildings, which in Europe is the majority.

In emerging countries, the rates of adoption are still relatively low, but are scheduled to explode in the next decades, particularly in certain densely inhabited areas of the planet, as China and India. During the discussion, IEA’s analyst Luca Lo Re showed there is a huge room to avoid massive amounts of emissions thanks to energy efficiency improvement of AC.

On the other hand, Alessio Mastrucci (IIASA) pointed to the huge cooling gaps existing already today and projected to dramatically increase in the coming years because of climate change. 

As pointed out by Han Wei from Energy Foundation China, her country already breaks numerous records when it comes to cooling. China is today’s world’s biggest market with approximately 120 billion USD of annual output worth, and world’s biggest manufacturer with more than 80% Room ACs and more than 60% of refrigerators. China’s electricity demand for cooling is already 15% of national consumption but it is increasing at approximately 20% every year with worrying summer peak months due to cooling in large-and medium size cities reaching 60% of total electricity demand. 

China cooling chain is and will be growing fast as well, with e-commerce being a major driving force, details Wang Yanhui, from innovative Green Development Program. Today only 22% of the vegetable, 34% of meat, and 41% of aquatic product are entering the cooling chain while developed countries stats stand at 95%, 100% and 95% respectively. The mitigation potential of the sector in China are still very important if a combination of sound policies will be put in place.

Finally, Thomas Motmans, from the Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE) stressed the role of innovative financial strategies to scale up investments in clean and efficient cooling. These include revolving loan funds, as already successfully implemented in Thailand,  and as pay-per-service tools based on a servitisation concept. This allows to transform space cooling from a traditionally product-focused business model into a service-focused one.

*COP25 side event “Green Cooling: Meeting the SDG Gaps” organized by:

Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation (iCET)
Renmin University of China (RUC)
Ca’ Foscari University, Venice (UNIVE)
Società Italiana per le Scienze del Clima (SISC)

Sponsored by:

Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC)
China Energy Conservation Coalition (CECC)
China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
Energy Foundation China (EFC)
innovative Green Development Program (iGDP)
Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP)