COP28 pledge to curb cooling emissions backed by 63 countries By Reuters

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© Reuters. People walk at the Dubai’s Expo City during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 4, 2023. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

By Gloria Dickie

DUBAI (Reuters) -The United States, Canada and Kenya were among 63 countries to join a pledge on Tuesday to deeply cut cooling-related emissions at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai.

The Global Cooling Pledge marks the world’s first collective focus on climate-warming emissions from cooling, which includes refrigeration for food and medicine and air conditioning.

It commits countries to reduce by 2050 their cooling-related emissions by at least 68% compared to 2022 levels, along with a suite of other targets including establishing minimum energy performance standards by 2030.

“We want to lay out a pathway to reduce cooling-related emissions across all sectors but increase access to sustainable cooling,” U.S. climate envoy John Kerry told COP28.

Some 1.2 billion people who need cooling still lack access. Installed capacity is set to triple by mid-century, driven by climbing temperatures, growing populations and rising incomes.

“Imagine a slum community, an informal settlement, the housing made of corrugated iron, and on the side an air conditioner,” Freetown mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr of Sierra Leone told a COP28 news conference.

“The aspiration of everyone as temperatures rise and incomes rise is that their wealth is measured by their cooling.”

But all those extra ACs double down on the climate crisis, with cooling emissions expected to reach between 4.4 billion and 6.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050, according to a report by a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) coalition, which also developed the pledge alongside the COP28 UAE presidency.

“People will buy a very cheap air conditioner produced somewhere in Asia for 100 bucks and plug it in,” said Jürgen Fischer, president of climate solutions at Danish multinational Danfoss which specializes in heating and cooling. “That will load the energy system a lot, and there will be a collapse”.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to allow these individual plug-ins anymore,” he said.

Reuters was first to report U.S. support for the cooling pledge, which suggests there could be a process to construct more regulations or incentives for the industry in the United States.

India, which is likely to see the greatest growth in demand for cooling in the coming decades, still had not joined the pledge as of Tuesday morning.

Indian government officials earlier told Reuters they were not willing to undertake targets above those committed to in 1992 under the multilateral Montreal Protocol to regulate production and consumption of ozone depleting chemicals and hydrofluorocarbons used in cooling.

Nearly three-quarters of the potential for reducing cooling emissions by mid-century can be found in G20 countries, the UNEP report said.

“The countries who are signing up … they are now really taking action and working with industry in order to deploy sustainable solutions,” said Danfoss’ Fischer.

At least 118 countries are also supporting another COP28 pledge to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency rates by 2030.

Progress on meeting the aims of the cooling pledge will be tracked on an annual basis until 2030, with check-ins at the yearly U.N. climate summits.


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