An unfortunate new report from the United Nations reveals troubling feedback loop earth has been sucked into in the fight against global warming. As the world has gotten hotter, cooling technology has been a vital part of saving human lives by keeping us cool. The problem is, air conditioning units, refrigerators and freezers also create enormous amounts of greenhouse gasses, which drives the global temperature up higher. Fortunately, the UN found that there are safer, greener options available for cooling technology — options that could save us up to 460 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the next 40 years. Unfortunately, replacing all the cooling technology in the world will take time and resources.
“If we deal with cooling wrong, we essentially cook ourselves,” Gabrielle Dreyfus, the cool efficiency program manager at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said on a press call, according to Gizmodo.
For the most part, air conditioning units use an industrial chemical called hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), which is the cause of the problem. In 2019, governments adopted the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, in which they pledged to phase out HFCs, which will reduce the global temperature by about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit — assuming everyone does it. However, major greenhouse gas emitters like the U.S. and China declined to join the 100 countries signing the pledge.
Greener cooling units aren’t just good for the environment — they’re good for the economy. It makes cooling units more efficient, which lowers the amount of energy used. The UN found that doubling the efficiency of air conditioners could save the world as much as $2.9 trillion by 2050.
Nobody is calling to get rid of cooling technology — given how many lives it saves, that’s not even an option. But our current cooling tech is outdated, and will make things worse in the long haul. Switching over to new technology won’t necessarily be easy, but it’ll definitely be a lot easier than the alternative.