Cooling is central to health, prosperity, and the environment. Efficient, clean cooling for all underpins many Sustainable Development Goals and represents an opportunity to avoid substantial climate and air pollutant emissions.

Energy demand for cooling is the fastest growing end-use in buildings, with ten air conditioners expected to be sold every second over the next 30 years. There is consensus in the scientific community that enhancement of energy efficiency in the cooling sector is a strategic, near-term opportunity to realize significant climate and clean air benefits.

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol entered into force in January 1st, 2019. The phase down of HFC refrigerants under the amendment has the potential to avoid up to 0.1˚C of warming by 2050 and up to 0.4℃ by 2100. The economic, environmental, and health benefits of catalyzing simultaneous energy efficiency improvements, in concert with the HFC phase down, supports reduced energy consumption and avoided emissions of CO2 and black carbon, which can potentially double the climate benefit of the phase down alone.

To capture this opportunity, the Efficient Cooling Initiative brings together governments, intergovernmental organizations, and the private sector to build high-level political leadership and facilitate collaboration among stakeholders. The aim is to enhance energy efficiency in the cooling sector while countries implement the phase-down of HFC refrigerants under the Montreal Protocol.

What we can achieve

Emissions from air conditioning and refrigeration are expected to rise 90% from 2017 levels by 2050. This increase would result in emission of 12 GtCO2e, equivalent to a third of our total emissions in 2017.
There are 1.6 billion residential air conditioners in use today. Without fast action, that number could triple by 2050 requiring USD $3.2 trillion in power generation.
A 30% improvement in energy efficiency of room air conditioners can save enough energy to avoid building up to nearly 1,600 500MW peak power plants by 2030, and up to 2,500 by 2050.

What we can achieve

Through the Efficient Cooling Initiative, Coalition partners seek to address key challenges related to integrating energy efficiency within the phase-down of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. The Initiative is working to build high-level political support and awareness on the crucial need to improve cooling energy efficiency and avoid the need for more cooling while disseminating information and expertise and mobilizing finance for energy efficiency in the cooling sector. In its initial phase, the Efficient Cooling Initiative is focusing on:

  • High-level events to raise awareness on the need to improve energy efficiency, on efficient alternatives and technologies and market transformation, and on additional resources to enhance the energy efficiency of cooling equipment
  • Technical activities, aiming at disseminating best practices and lessons learned and increasing communication between important actors in the cooling sector


The Efficient Cooling Initiative's overall objective is to catalyse action on efficient cooling to double the climate benefit of the Kigali Amendment HFC phase-down alone. The Initiative will achieve this by:

  • Generating greater awareness and support at senior and political levels of governments with respect to policies, regulations, standards and other actions to facilitate the market penetration of low-GWP energy efficient alternative technologies in the cooling sector
  • Identifying and mobilizing additional resources to assist developing countries enhance the energy efficiency of cooling equipment while phasing down HFCs
  • Showcasing alternative refrigerants and technologies, including but not limited to not-in-kind alternatives to vapor compression cycle systems, such as evaporative cooling and methods for reducing cooling demand (building insulation, shading of the façade and roof greening)
Activity | Efficient Cooling, HFC
The Coalition's HFC initiative promotes HFC alternative technologies and standards to significantly reduce the projected growth in the use and emissions of high-global warming potential (GWP) HFCs in...
Chile launches demonstration of alternative refrigeration technology

Progress & support

The initiative was launched at the G7 Environment Ministers' meeting in 2019 in Metz, France. Find out more

Initiative contacts

Nathan Borgford-Parnell,
Science Affairs Coordinator
Nathan.Borgford-Parnell [at] un.org

Who's involved

Lead Partner: A Coalition partner with an active role in coordinating, monitoring and guiding the work of an initiative.

Implementer: A Coalition partner or actor receiving Coalition funds to implement an activity or initiative.

Partners (14)


2020 | Reports, Case Studies & Assessments
, Dreyfus, G., Borgford-Parnell, N., Christensen, J., Fahey, D.W., Motherway, B., Peters, T., Picolotti, R., Shah, N., and Xu, Y., Molina, M., and Zaelke, D., Steering Committee co-chairs

This report is the background document providing the basis for the Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Energy...

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