Cutting 87% of the climate change pollutants found in air-conditioners could eliminate 89.7 billion tonnes of emissions by 2050.
That’s according to new research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, which suggests improving the efficiency of refrigeration units and phasing out fluorinated gases used for cooling could reduce global warming by as much as 1°C by the end of the century.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) account for about 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions but they can be thousands of times as potent than carbon dioxide – the study suggests they could make up around a fifth of all emissions by 2050 if their manufacture continues unchecked.
Air-conditioners are becoming an increasingly common item in many developing countries around the world – Asian and African homeowners and businesses are expected to buy around 700 million of the units by 2030, scaling up to 1.6 billion by the middle of the century.
If this happens, thousands of new power plants will need to be put into operation to provide the necessary power.
The study claims a 30% improvement in efficiency could avoid the peak load equivalent of about 1,500 power plants by 2030.