The inaugural Asean Cooling Summit convened today for the first time a diverse group of leaders from business, government, civic society and academia to discuss solutions for sustainable cooling in Southeast Asia.
Growing demand for air conditioning in the world’s emerging economies—such as those in the Southeast Asia region—could spur a 64 percent increase in household energy use and produce 23.1 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2040.
Furthermore, technology used in conventional cooling systems in air conditioners and refrigerators poses a challenge. They use potent greenhouse gases such as hydrofluorocarbons that have high global warming potential. Moving away from the use of these gases is a key component of the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which commits signatory countries to a timetable to replace climate-damaging refrigerants with sustainable alternatives.
The Summit explored cooling in the context of sustainable development and identified solutions to increase the adoption of energy-efficient technology, remove financial barriers, and raise awareness of the critical need for climate-friendly cooling systems.
A comprehensive new white paper, Freezing in the tropics: Asean’s air-con conundrum,commissioned by the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP) and produced by Eco-Business released during the Summit revealed the need to sound the alarm about the impact of cooling on the environment in Southeast Asia. There was little awareness of the necessity of energy-efficient cooling to meet national emission reduction targets, though one cause for hope was the widespread sentiment that buildings are sometimes cooled to excess.
The whitepaper also found that potential energy savings accrued in a year from Asean countries by switching to energy-efficient devices would be equivalent to the annual output of 50 coal-powered plants.
Dan Hamza-Goodacre, Executive Director of K-CEP, said: “Providing clean, efficient cooling for all is one of the 21st century’s biggest opportunities, especially in the Asean region. Society reaps huge health and productivity benefits from cooling, but few of us realize that an air-conditioning unit is like a carbon bomb. Inefficient cooling from the use of polluting fluorinated gases could result in 1° Celsius of global warming, and this must change. Businesses know the answer, governments need to encourage change and consumers need to make smart choices about the cooling technology they buy.”
“Findings from the whitepaper reveal the urgent need to tackle the cooling issue in Southeast Asia. As temperatures rise and demand for energy soars, it’s critical that we look at how to change practices and mindsets of businesses and governments to make the industry more sustainable. This will help the region avoid commissioning more fossil fuel power plants that are harmful to the environment and make it difficult to fulfill pledges to the Paris Agreement. We hope that this year’s Asean Cooling Summit is a good starting point for governments, businesses and the people of Southeast Asia to think critically about how they can help to tackle both cooling and climate change,” said Jessica Cheam, Managing Editor of Eco-Business.
“Economic growth and rising population are increasing demand for air conditioners and refrigeration in Southeast Asia. Moving to alternatives while improving energy efficiency will save money for both consumers and governments, benefitting the region’s people and economy,” said Mark Radka, Chief of UN Environment’s Energy, Climate, and Technology Branch.
Hosted by K-CEP, the event is organized with UN Environment and Asia’s leading sustainability media organization, Eco-Business. K-CEP supports the Kigali Amendment to phase out production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons by more than 80 percent over the next 30 years, potentially avoiding up to 0.5° C of global warming by the end of the century. K-CEP focuses on energy efficiency of cooling and UN Environment is one of its implementing partners. – Un Environment