Benefits of energy-efficient refrigeration and of the Kigali Amendment

Supported by figures, a recent IEA-UN Environment Programme report highlights the growing importance of refrigeration in the world and the necessity to deliver efficient and climate-friendly refrigeration for all.

A recent IEA-UN Environment Programme report (1) points out that “a warming world will increase the need for access to cooling, including for over one billion people who face serious risks because they lack cooling services like the cold chain”.


In this report, note that the word “cooling” is used in the meaning of "refrigeration". In this regard, the definitions of the IIR, also accepted in particular by ASHRAE, can be consulted in the International Dictionary of Refrigeration.


Approximately 3.6 billion refrigeration appliances are in service and this number is increasing by up to 10 units every second. If refrigeration were made available to all those who need it –not just those who can afford it – for the need would ride to 14 billion refrigeration appliances by 2050, the report says.


The authors of the report state that the implementation of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol will phase-down the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and could avoid up to 0.4°C – or  even 0.5°C as indicated in the preface of the report – of global warming by 2100” . These rather vague estimates are higher than that of the IIR in a 2017 Informatory Note (between 0.1 and 0.3 ° C of average temperature increase avoided) (2).


The authors of the report stress that by combining energy efficiency improvements with the transition away from HFCs, the world could avoid cumulative greenhouse gas emissions of up to 210-460 gigatons of CO2 equivalent over the next four decades, depending on future rates of decarbonisation. This is roughly equal to 4-8 years of total annual global greenhouse gas emissions, based on 2018 levels.



(1) International Energy Agency, United Nations environment programme. “Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report: Benefits of cooling efficiency and the Kigali Amendment“. July 2020.

(2) International Institute of Refrigeration. The impact of the refrigeration sector on climate change. 35th Informatory Note on Refrigeration Technologies.