AC condensers on top of a building

Sustainable Cooling Offer

Cooling is essential to human health, food security and economic productivity. UNDP’s response to the challenges and opportunities in the cooling sector focuses on supporting the transition to climate-friendly refrigerants and formulation of national cooling action plans and programmes and promoting integrated energy solutions, coupled with renewable energy in buildings and energy intensive facilities, district cooling, and sustainable cold chain solutions.

Global context

Cooling is essential to human health, food security, economic productivity, and is becoming more important due to increasing global mean temperatures accompanied by more extreme heat waves. Cooling is currently estimated to consume 20% of the world’s electricity consumption. The demand for cooling is increasing rapidly. If unmanaged, this will result in a cycle of increasing emissions from fossil-fueled energy consumption and high global warning refrigerants. It is estimated that 14 billion cooling devices will be needed to meet demands by 2050, four times than the use today. Under 2019’s the Rome Declaration, parties to the Montreal Protocol stressed the importance of national action and international cooperation to promote the development of sustainable cold chains to reduce food loss. Many vaccines require a proper “vaccine cold chain”, a challenge that has been particularly highlighted by Covid-19 pandemic. As such, sustainable cooling is essential for the green recovery and coping with the climate change. 

The global warming impact of cooling can be mitigated by enhancing clean energy access, transitioning to low global warning potential (GWP) refrigerants, increasing energy efficiency of cooling units and integrated cooling and heating solutions coupled with renewable energy. In terms of refrigerants, the phase-out of ozone depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol during the past three decades is estimated to have reduced GHG emissions by the equivalent of 135 gigatons of CO2. In 2016, the Kigali Amendment for phasing down the most used refrigerants-hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) was agreed, which could avoid up to 0.4°C of global warming by the end of the century if successfully implemented by all parties. The IEA reports that in all major markets today, people are typically buying RACs whose average efficiencies are less than half of the best that is available. As of September 2020, more than 60 countries have implemented Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) and labelling policies. However, numerous nations, many in Africa, have not yet implemented any form of energy performance standard. In other countries, MEPS are out of date or not enforced.

The greatest potential for saving energy in cooling is through integrated system solutions such as district cooling. However, this potential is yet to be developed at scale. Integrated energy solutions for heating and cooling of buildings, coupled with renewable energy from nature (wind, geothermal, solar, ocean, and surface water) and waste heat from industries can generate up to 90% in energy savings compared to stand-alone cooling units. Similar holistic approaches could be applied in the cold chain and energy intensive facilities such as shopping centers, large cold storage, food processors, hospitals, and hotels. The potential to decarbonizing cooling through proper urban planning and systematic design is huge. At the same time, knowledge, technical and financial gaps would need to be addressed in developing countries.

UNDP’s Service Lines

UNDP’s response to the challenges and opportunities in the cooling sector focuses on the following service lines: 

  1. Support refrigerant transition to climate-friendly alternatives through MLF funded projects: 
  • Institutional strengthening and enabling activities: Capacity building of national ozone units, data collection and reporting, communication, and awareness raising. Establishment of production, import & export license and quota system on controlled substances, capacity building of the customs officers.
  • Facilitate technology innovation and transfer by implementing demonstration projects.
  • HCFC phase-out management plan (HPMP) and Kigali implementation plan (KIP): Support data analysis, formulation of policy framework, technology roadmap, manufacturing conversion, promotion of new technology in end-user sectors and best practices in servicing sector through training programs.
  • Integrated programming and synergies in refrigeration transition and energy savings. 
  1. Formulation of national cooling action plans (NCAPs), enabling instruments, government planning and programmes:
  • Support the development of NCAPs as a strategic document for advancing sustainable cooling solutions with the aim to raise the ambition of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by connecting the NCAPs to the Climate Promise. 
  • Support the introduction and update of MEPS in appliances and cooling units such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and heat pumps.
  • Promote highly efficient products by supporting the development of appliance rebate programs, incentive schemes, eco-labelling, green procurement, and public awareness. 
  • Facilitate institutional collaboration at national and international level.
  1. Promote integrated energy solutions coupled with renewable energy in buildings and energy intensive facilities: 
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing for smart/green buildings, in particular the energy saving options of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems, use of thermal insulation for reducing heating and cooling load, help the establishment of building codes, and green building certification.
  • Support the development of smart health facilities, with a focus on integrated cooling and heating design, blood/medicine/vaccine storage, as well as the sound management of healthcare wastes. 
  • Promote best technologies in the hotels with a focus on integrated design for cooling, heating, hot water supply, laundry, and sound management of wastes.
  • Support demonstration projects in energy intensive facilities. 
  1. Promote District Cooling 
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing and awareness on district cooling, particularly in SIDS. 
  • Build a platform for district cooling involving government institutions, utility companies, urban design institutions, finance institutions, and global experts.
  • Facilitate stakeholder consultations, develop business case studies, and identify public and private partnerships for potential district cooling projects. 
  • Support system design, technical feasibility, and project development including a financing plan. 
  • Partner with IFIs to secure the finance for the potential district cooling projects.
  1. Promote sustainable cold chain solutions
  • Support the development of sustainable cold chains to reduce food loss and waste, including data collection and analysis, policy framework and technology roadmap.
  • Support the development of energy saving programs in the cold chain to reduce operation cost and save energy in the areas of seafood and meat storage, food processor, super-market, retailors, and refrigerated transportation.
  • Support the development of vaccine cold chain with a focus in Africa.
  • Facilitate access to international finance for the development of sustainable cold chain.