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Sustainable cooling on COP28 agenda

UAE: Sustainable cooling will be firmly on the agenda at this year’s COP28 meeting with UNEP promising a Global Cooling Pledge and a Cool COP Menu of Actions.  

UNEP will publish a Cooling Stocktake report ahead of the COP28 Climate Change Conference in the UAE. The report will assess implemented country actions on sustainable cooling, evaluate new opportunities and offer insights into political action that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the cooling sector.

The move has been backed by COP28 president-designate Dr Sultan Al Jaber who said: “The global rise in temperatures is a direct threat to the health and prosperity of billions of people. But addressing this challenge should not result in further damage. We must move away from cooling systems that are inefficient and polluting and provide equitable access to climate-friendly cooling solutions. 

“COP28 UAE is committed to innovative technologies and partnerships that deliver results. We will work with the Cool Coalition and UNEP to elevate this issue and look forward to showcasing solutions at COP28 this year,” he added.

The “Menu of Actions” will be defined over the coming months in close collaboration with partners including the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL). 

“Today we have heard clearly from the COP 28 Presidency that sustainable cooling is on the agenda for 2023 – and so it should be. Access to cooling is an issue of equity for the over 1 billion people who face serious cooling access risks. Life doesn’t stop when temperatures go above 35º. But when it does, equality of opportunity, productivity, and health is at stake for the most vulnerable,” said Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and special representative of the UN secretary-general for Sustainable Energy for All and co-chair of UN-Energy

Lack of cooling access

SEforALL argues that almost 2.5 billion people do not have access to climate-friendly cooling solutions and over 1 billion are at high risk from extreme heat due to a lack of cooling access – the vast majority living in in Africa and Asia.

However, conventional cooling, such as air conditioning, is responsible for over 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If not managed properly, energy needs for space cooling will triple by 2050, together with associated emissions, the group states.

“Expanding cooling will protect the most vulnerable communities from extreme heat, keep food fresh and vaccines safe, employees productive and digital economies viable,” said UNEP executive director Inger Andersen. As cooling expands, we need to prevent cooling-related greenhouse gas emissions from adding fuel to the climate fire. I am therefore pleased that cooling has been put on the global agenda of the next UN Climate Change Conference.”

The initiative provides incentives to governments and non-state stakeholders to act on sustainable cooling in five areas: nature-based solutions, super-efficient appliances, food and vaccine cold chains, district cooling, and National Cooling Action Plans.

In the run-up to COP28, which will take place from 30 November to 12 December at Expo City Dubai, the Cool COP Menu of Actions will enable governments, the private sector, development banks, financial institutions, and philanthropies to contribute to wider and fairer access to cooling services while paving the way for sustainable cooling solutions. 

Cool champion

To galvanise support for sustainable cooling, Denmark has announced that their Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy Dan Jørgensen will step in as a Cool Champion.

“Denmark decided to become a Cool Champion to promote global action on sustainable cooling and bring it to the 2.5 billion people in the global south who lack access,” said Dan Jørgensen , Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy, Denmark .”Sustainable cooling is not only the blind spot of the energy transition but can also bring critical co-benefits including food security and health,” he added.

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