More than 60 Nations, Including US, Promise to Reduce Emissions from Air Conditioners and Refrigerators


U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry, along with representatives from over 60 other nations, has committed to cutting emissions from refrigerators and air conditioners as part of a global effort to combat climate change.

At the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai, 63 nations, including the United States, joined a pledge to reduce cooling-related emissions. The Global Cooling Pledge calls for a 68 percent reduction in such emissions by 2050 compared to 2022 levels. The focus will be on appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators, with a requirement to establish minimum energy performance standards for appliances by 2030.
John Kerry expressed the intent to reduce cooling-related emissions across all sectors while simultaneously increasing access to sustainable cooling. The pledge also received criticism from Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.), who accused Kerry of trying to exact revenge on everyday Americans.
Kerry’s pledge comes on the heels of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule proposed in July to cut the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 40 percent by 2028, a move aimed at curbing the use of the refrigerants in appliances like air conditioners, heat pumps, and refrigerators.

The import and production of HFCs have been subject to special allowances since January of the previous year, causing costs for replacing refrigerants to rise. Some reports note that the cost of replacing refrigerants lost from a leak has doubled in just a year.

Furthermore, the Department of Energy proposed stricter energy efficiency standards for refrigerators, effective in 2027. The rules are part of an effort to reduce energy consumption and mitigate the environmental impact of cooling equipment.
According to the United Nations, the demand for cooling equipment is expected to rise, with cooling equipment projected to consume more than double the electricity it does currently by 2050. Such equipment’s emissions are expected to contribute over 10 percent of global emissions by mid-century.
UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen stressed the importance of low-carbon cooling growth and the necessity to balance the sector’s expansion with the energy transition and climate impacts. Additionally, passive cooling measures like insulation, ventilation, and natural shading are proposed as ways to curb the growth in demand for cooling capacity in 2050.

On the sidelines of the global climate summit, John Kerry pledged that the U.S. would not build any new coal-fired power plants and would phase out existing ones as part of a push for 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035. Currently, coal accounts for nearly 20 percent of electricity generation in the United States.

However, coal-fired plants accounted for 36 percent of global electricity in 2022, with the bulk of this coming from China, which continues to build new coal plants at a rapid pace despite climate goals and pledges. Data shows that in 2022, China permitted the construction of 50 GW of new coal power capacity, representing a more than 50 percent increase from 2021.

Given the urgency of climate change, bold commitments like the one made at the COP28 summit are a step toward shaping a more sustainable future. It remains to be seen how such ambitious pledges will be translated into concrete actions that lead to reduced emissions and a cleaner, healthier planet for all. However, global efforts are needed to push for initiatives like the Global Cooling Pledge to be realized and sustainable changes to take effect.


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