The historic heat waves forecasted for Europe this week are a stark reminder that we are in a race against the clock to protect the most vulnerable populations from the impacts of climate change which will continue to grow in number and severity.
Today, around 1.1 billion people lack access to cooling, which not only makes them vulnerable to heat waves but also contributes to food insecurity. Roughly 30% of food worldwide is wasted because of lack of refrigeration. As the global population continues to grow – and climate change impacts food production – we simply can’t afford to waste this much agricultural output.
This is why we are joining the Institute of Refrigeration, the UN Environmental Programme and organizations around the world in celebrating the first World Refrigeration Day.
On “the coolest day of the year,” we want to share with key stakeholders in the cold food supply chain – food growers, logistics providers, retails and refrigerator manufacturers – how they can contribute to next-generation refrigeration.
Refrigeration innovation offers a solution to the climate crisis
While expanding access to cooling worldwide will address the impacts of climate change by increasing food security, reducing food waste and protecting populations from heat waves, the increasing use of cooling technologies also contribute to the climate problem through energy use and the high-global warming impact of the chemical refrigerants.
The use of chemical refrigerants alone will account for around 0.5°C or more temperature increase by 2100 and the latest IPCC report painted a picture where the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C can drastically change our future.
A critical evaluation of large-scale, deployable climate solutions conducted by Project Drawdown identified the management of these high-global warming refrigerants in cooling technologies – including both refrigeration and space cooling applications – as the number one solution for reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
In our 15 years of working with food and retail companies and mapping the environmental impacts, we know that refrigeration is a big opportunity. EDF believes that through innovation and implementation, companies can both improve the quality of life for millions and minimize climate impacts of refrigeration technologies.EDF believes that companies can improve the quality of life for millions & minimize climate impacts of refrigeration technologies. Click To Tweet
International policy spurs a technology transition that companies will need to engage in
Addressing emissions from the food cold chain will not only help companies meet their sustainability goals, but it will help companies prepare for the technology transition already underway spurred by international policy.
International policy has been driving innovation in the cooling space for years, originating with the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances – chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants such as CFC’s and HCFC’s – with the signing of the 1987 Montreal Protocol agreement, the most successful international climate agreement in history.
This drove innovation to develop alternative refrigerants, however, their primary replacement, fluorinated refrigerants such as HFCs, turned out to be powerful greenhouse gases, having a global warming potential (GWP) thousands of times stronger than carbon dioxide.
New international commitments are now spurring action to phase-out HFCs. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was ratified by 65 countries and entered into force this year. Countries representing the largest markets around the world are now designing regulations to implement the Kigali Amendment at the national level.
The European Union “F-Gas Directive” pledges to reduce HFCs 79% by 2030 and companies have already made changes to their refrigeration management. Last week, China – the world’s largest producer of HFCs and AC units – announced its national Green Cooling Plan. This is on the heels of Indian government’s National Cooling Action Plan, released in March of this year.
How to reduce your company’s cold food supply chain emissions:
Here are actions your company can take on World Refridgeration Day to manage the coming technology transition and advance your sustainable efforts:
- Develop a plan to adopt next-generation refrigeration technology. It’s in your company’s best interest to start preparing now for the HFC-phase down. Plus, cost benefits can be realized now through readily available, next-generation technologies. To be proactive in the refrigeration technology transition, work with your management to develop an action plan. Create a timeline for new technology integration and start to pilot different systems. Head to EDF’s Supply Chain Solutions Center to get started!
- Track and manage your refrigeration footprint. Having in-depth knowledge of your refrigeration footprint is an essential input into your action plan, and will better equip your company to incorporate new technologies when its most cost-effective. In addition, the process of tracking, managing and maintaining your refrigeration equipment will help you maximize opportunities to increase energy efficiency and reduce refrigerant leakage of existing and new systems – both of which will lead to significant cost savings.
- Collaborate for scale: Don’t go it alone. Join an industry dialogue on advanced refrigeration! For instance, EPA’s GreenChill program and DOE’s Better Building Initiative offer peer exchange, seminars and resources for incorporating low-climate impact refrigerants and advanced refrigeration technology. The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council also brings together experts and companies exploring the role of natural refrigerants in a post-HFC world.
Join the other companies committing to innovation
Entrepreneurs see new market opportunities and are preparing to scale deployment of new technologies. As refrigeration technologies have to be completely reengineered to fulfill Kigali’s vision of a global HFC-phase out, next-generational technologies are also being designed to be more energy-efficient.
This will help keep operational costs low – a critical selling point for companies. International technology competitions, such as the Global Cooling Prize, showcase ways to accelerate the development and deployment of revolutionary HFC-free, energy efficient technologies.
Retail companies such as Aldi, Whole Foods, Target, Sprouts and Ahold Delhaize are making bold commitments and spurring innovation by working with refrigeration manufacturers to test next-generation technologies in their stores.
Your company’s actions today to reduce the impacts of refrigeration in the food cold chain will help ensure a future with many more “cooler” days. Anyone wanting to learn more about World Refrigeration Day can listen in on one of the webinars hosted by organizations around the world here and follow #WREFD19 on Twitter.
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