Editorial by Mrs. Sylvie Lemmet

The refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) industry is remarkable for its contribution to sustainable development and indeed to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. Preservation of perishable food and medicines has resulted in reducing poverty and protecting human heath. The improvement of life expectancy and the near eradication of diseases like polio could not have been possible without refrigeration or cooling. At the same time, productivity and the quality of life could not have been enhanced without maintaining comfortable working conditions through climate controls. The RAC industry has also proven its ability to rise to environmental challenges, notably the protection of the Earth's ozone layer. The refrigeration sector saw the Montreal Protocol's requirement of eliminating CFCs as an opportunity to innovate, and indeed it is rising to the challenge. Before the Protocol entered into force, nearly 40% of the 1 million tons of global CFCs were used annually by this industry in the early 1980s. At that time, only a few businesses and governments were optimistic that RAC technology could be developed to meet the challenge of effectively eliminating the use of CFCs. However over the last 15 years, the industry underwent a technological revolution, starting with pioneering work in leak-detection, containment, best practices, recovery, recycling and reducing initial refrigerant charges. The industry showed a progressive shift towards more sustainable solutions by moving from CFCs to transitional HCFC refrigerants, followed by hydrocarbons, CO2 and "not-in-kind" technology. Now, as the Montreal Protocol reaches its 20th Anniversary and the Kyoto Protocol approaches its10th, the world is recognizing the important links between ozone depletion and climate change, and that the nexus of both lies in the RAC industry. A recent study has confirmed the tremendous contribution of the Montreal Protocol to mitigating climate change. By phasing out CFCs, HCFCs and other chemicals under the Montreal Protocol, more than 5 Gigatonnes equivalent of CO2 have already been eliminated - representing more than 25% of the world's greenhouse gases emissions compared to 1990. This surpasses the Kyoto Protocol's target of reducing GHGs by 5 times. The RAC industry played a major role in this achievement, and needs to apply the same focus and determination on the next great challenge: climate change. HCFC-22 refrigerants have been useful in implementing the Montreal Protocol so far. However, consumption of this chemical is growing in developing countries at the rate of 20-35 % per annum. A global coalition for technology cooperation is needed between developed and developing countries to develop and deploy alternative technologies to both HCFCs and HFCs, and to improve the energy efficiency of RAC appliances (the energy efficiencies of such appliances in developed countries is much greater than that in developing countries). The RAC industry has been responsive to the changes it has faced until now. It will now have to be responsive to another change -- climate change. The potential of this sector in technology innovation is yet to be fully utilized, and I encourage the industry to rise to the challenge. 1. Velders GJM, Andersen SO, Daniel JS, Fahey DW, McFarland, M. ,2007, The importance of the Montreal Protocol in protecting the climate Mrs. Sylvie Lemmet, Director, UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics