G2 Cooling

CS-N0W cooling emissions stocktake

20 Dec 2023


Emissions from cooling activities (i.e. refrigeration and air conditioning) are becoming an important topic in the fight against climate change. The use of cooling technologies is set to increase under rising temperatures, with this trend likely to be compounded by population growth and urbanisation. 

International climate action is beginning to turn its attention towards this issue, with the launch of the Global Cooling Pledge at COP28. Signed by over 60 countries, the Pledge addresses not only the mitigation of emissions from cooling activities, but also wider issues regarding access to cooling technologies in a warming world. Prior to COP28, the UK took part in a high-level working group developing the Pledge, alongside the UAE, USA, Japan, EC, France, and Denmark.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from cooling activities in the UK are currently poorly understood, because cooling emissions are not currently explicit in national GHG inventory totals. While direct emissions of fluorinated gases (F-gases) from cooling activities already benefit from robust existing estimates, energy consumption statistics need further disaggregation to reveal the same level of detail. Such granularity is needed to support impactful policy interventions that align with the UK’s broader mitigation goals.

Through the Climate Services for a Net Zero resilient World (CS-N0W) programme, Ricardo’s research team is undertaking the first stocktake of UK cooling emissions, focusing on indirect emissions from energy use associated with cooling. This, combined with existing estimates of direct F-gas emissions from the HFC-Outlook model (a detailed model assessing future markets for refrigerants in the EU+UK1), will produce a complete picture of cooling emissions in the UK. Our work in this area is  supported by the current Transport, Industrial and Commercial Refrigeration (TICR) project. This research is expected to inform better understanding of the proportion of emissions and energy consumption that can be attributed to cooling activities at sector and sub-sector levels. Indeed, early projections already indicate that the proportion of energy consumption attributed to cooling may be significant. Understanding current energy use and emissions from cooling will also form a basis for future emissions projections.

What does this mean for future policy?
The data coming out of CS-N0W’s UK cooling emissions stocktake, delivered by Ricardo, will enable crucial policy interventions and innovation strategies to be developed to reduce emissions from cooling. This early intervention, while use of cooling technologies is relatively low in the UK, will help limit the rise in cooling emissions expected to occur in the future as the world warms and cities grow. 


Enjoyed this blog? Check out the rest of our COP28 blog series exploring common themes to emerge from this year’s conference and the work of our international team in addressing environmental challenges in the areas of climate action, air quality, land use and energy.

Maya Ricardo Pic 3 (2)

Maya Rubin