Net zero: some initiatives in the field of refrigeration

As part of the Race to Zero campaign launched by the UNFCCC, two initiatives on refrigeration have recently been promoted. 

In June 2020, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) launched the Race to Zero campaign. 

It mobilizes a coalition of net zero initiatives in different areas including refrigeration. The aim is to drastically reduce CO2 emissions by 2050. 


Net-zero cooling means reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cooling during operational life of products (excluding resource extraction and manufacturing) to as close to zero as possible and any remaining GHG emissions would be balanced with an equivalent amount of carbon removal –for example, by restoring forests and through direct air capture and storage technology. 


 In the refrigeration sector, the UNFCCC relies on:   

  • Passive cooling, which avoids or reduces the need for mechanical cooling as well as the use of refrigerants. 
  • Energy efficiency of appliances. 
  • Very low GWP refrigerants in all refrigeration applications. 


 In this context, two recent initiatives should be highlighted. 


The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has published a list of products that use natural refrigerants with very low GWP and have attractive energy efficiency. The report focuses on vapor compression equipment and not on passive cooling systems. HFOs are also not included in this list. 

The different sectors covered concerning domestic, commercial, industrial refrigeration, mobile and domestic air conditioning, refrigerated transport as well as heat pumps.  


On a web page dedicated to net to zero iniatives, the Carbon Trust organisation details the key steps to be taken to fully implement the Paris Agreement and the Kigali Amendment, while contributing to development goals. sustainable UN. The different stages are set for 2025, 2030 and 2040. 

In the field of very low GWP refrigerants for example, the various stages mentioned are: 


2025 2030 2040
  • Countries agree to adjust the Kigali Amendment phase down starting with sectors where earlier progress is easier (e.g. residential and commercial refrigeration)
  • Countries commit to addressing barriers to the uptake of ultra-low GWP refrigerants(e.g. products standards, building regulation and upskilling of service engineers)
  • Some applications can use only ultra-low GWP solutions (e.g. household refrigerators and freezers
  • All newcooling technologies for most applications haveultra-low or no GWP solutionsprovided barriers have been successfully addresse
  • Full implementation of Kigali Amendment that phases down HFCs across all cooling sectors(emphasis shifts to compliance)
  • Mostpurchased appliances and equipment use ultra-low GWP refrigerant 


A calculation tool is also provided to help companies and governments to perform calculations on the different aspects of decarbonization in the refrigeration sector. Finally, a report shows the progress made by various industry groups working in the refrigeration sector to reach the zero-carbon target. For more information, please see the links below.

Carbon Trust: