Implementing energy-efficient cooling appliances could avoid nearly eight years of emissions, which is as much as 460 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases.
That’s one of the findings of a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), which suggests a doubling in energy-efficient air conditioners could bring a saving of $2.9 trillion (£2.3tn) in reduced electricity generation by 2050.
The report also estimates the need for some 1,300GW of additional electricity generation capacity would be reduced if governments doubled the energy efficiency of air conditioning by 2050 – that is the equivalent of the power generation of all coal plants in China and India in 2018.
Scientists also stress the need for around 14 billion cooling applications to cover the needs of global populations against global warming by 2050, with some 3.6 billion air conditioners being already in use.
Fast-rising demand for air-conditioning is contributing significantly to climate change, according to the report.
That is the result of hydrofluorocarbon, carbon dioxide and black carbon emissions from typical air conditioning installations, which rely primarily on fossil fuels to generate power.
The report also recommends policy actions including the implementation of energy efficiency labels on cooling equipment, updates in building requirements and the expansion of sustainable cold chains – this involves the transportation of temperature-sensitive products along a supply chain in a way that could prevent food loss and emissions.
Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Directo, said: “Higher efficiency standards are one of the most effective tools governments have to meet energy and environmental objectives.
“By improving cooling efficiency, they can reduce the need for new power plants, cut emissions and save consumers money.”