Developing countries will receive £4 million to drive down the emissions of harmful hydrofluorocarbons generated by outdated air conditioning units, cooling refrigeration and cold supply chains, the UK government announced on 20 April 2023 ahead of a reception in No.10 Downing Street for climate scientists serving on the Independent Assessment Panels for the UN Montreal Protocol, along with members of the United Nations Environment Programme United for Efficiency (UNEP U4E) African Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain project team, UK academia and representatives of NGOs and the private sector – as well as government representatives.
Hydrofluorocarbons are industrial chemicals primarily used for cooling and refrigeration. They are amongst the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and when emitted have a global warming potential thousands of times that of carbon dioxide.
The funding, which is being made available under the UK Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain Solutions programme, will support the African Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES), based in Kigali, Rwanda, which delivers training to farmers, healthcare workers and technicians to uptake more climate friendly and energy-efficient cooling.
As well as reducing emissions, developing nations will be better placed to store food and medicines more efficiently with the use of more efficient technologies. These will also help to improve farming productivity and reduce poverty, as for many crops up to 40% of the harvested produce is lost before being sold.
The scientists will discuss the next steps of the Montreal Protocol, designed to protect the earth’s ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of harmful ozone-depleting substances and then extended to cover hydrofluorocarbons through the Kigali Amendment.
The UK is a global leader in the fight against climate change, integral to the agreement of the Protocol and leading the world in the ambition to keep global warming under 1.5 °C through their presidency of COP26 and leadership at COP15 placed nature at the heart of tackling the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.
In her announcement, the Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, said: “The UN Montreal Protocol has played a vital part in protecting our ozone layer from harmful depleting substances and, as a global leader in the fight against climate change, I am delighted to be able to welcome the scientists leading the charge on this to Downing Street.
“This funding will help developing countries to play their part in tackling climate change and communities across the world with storing food and medicines more efficiently – as well as support farmers to increase their productivity.”
Alongside improvements to cooling equipment efficiency, UK leadership for early action on hydrofluorocarbons under the Montreal Protocol could avoid up to a degree of warming by the end of the century. The UK continues to cut consumption of hydrofluorocarbons at a faster pace than required under the Kigali Amendment to the UN Montreal Protocol – since 2015, levels have been reduced by 55% and by 2030 this will have phased down by 79% under existing legislation.
On top of today’s announcement, a further £1.2 million is being allocated towards the development of a roadmap and virtual modelling tools to help developing countries pilot techniques before they are implemented – enabling them to deploy the most efficient and cost-effective approach to more sustainable cooling.
Professor Toby Peters, Professor in Cold Economy at University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University, and leading the collaboration of UK Universities supporting the work in Africa and India, said, “Sustainable and equitable cooling and cold-chain is now more than ever critical infrastructure in a warming world. This programme for the first time delivers in an integrated approach that includes on the ground training and support for subsistence farmers and their communities, financeable business models and the network of skilled engineers needed to support equipment installation and maintenance. This work is underpinned by the evidence strategies required to increase investment into the development of sustainable cold-chain and community cooling.”
To learn more about ACES and how to get involved, click here, or contact Alice Moreau, Partner Engagements and SPOKEs Lead, UNEP U4E, firstname.lastname@example.org.