The case for business action

Demand for cooling and associated services is rapidly expanding. For example, since 1990, annual sales of air conditioners (ACs) have more than tripled with about 1.6 billion units currently in use. The global cooling market today consists of about 3.6 billion pieces of installed equipment with annual sales of around 350 million units of all sizes and types from domestic fridges to industrial cooling for sports stadiums. This is projected to increase to annual sales reaching 700 million units per year and a global
market size growing to 9.5 billion installed units by 2050. However, even at this rate of deployment, by 2050 we would have only met around two-thirds of cooling needs worldwide and may need to increase to 14 billion cooling appliances in total – compared to the 3.6 billion today – to meet the total need and deliver cooling for all.

Cooling needs are diverse and include: thermal comfort of domestic, commercial and industrial buildings; refrigeration of food to extend shelf life, cooling of industrial processes and equipment, and air conditioning in vehicles and transport refrigeration equipment. A diverse array of businesses currently meet these cooling needs. However, many cooling needs remain unmet. For example, while around 70% of food is chilled or frozen at some stage between farm and consumer in developed economies, only 20% of food globally which requires refrigerated processes is preserved using refrigeration according to the International Institute of Refrigeration.

There is an urgent need to deliver affordable efficient, climate-friendly cooling. Average efficiency of air conditioners is at the low end of what is typically available on store shelves and online and one third of the best available technology. More than 2 billion people represent a growing middle class where limited purchasing options mean they may only be able to afford to buy less expensive and less efficient cooling devices, which will spike global energy demand with profound consequences for the climate. In developing countries, 30-50% of perishable food produce is estimated to be lost post-harvest primarily because of lack of adequate cooling provision in the form of a cold chain. Efficient, climate-friendly
cooling products and services exist, and business is central to the delivery of these solutions at scale.

The framework for business actionn

The Cool Coalition takes an inclusive view of business action to promote efficient, climate-friendly cooling for all. To help elevate cooling as an inclusive, impactful and profitable opportunity, the Coalition welcomes ambitious action that:

  • Is transformational for mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and/or adapting to climate change, in terms of novelty or scale;
  • Brings sustainable development co-benefits;
  • Is replicable and can be scaled up;
  • Is measurable, especially in terms of GHG and particularly carbon pollution reduction, and deliverable in 3 – 5 years;
  • Is an innovative technology or approach and visibly inspiring for others looking to take action.

Our framework for business action on cooling highlights how businesses can act within the diverse cooling sector. It considers a lifecycle approach and focuses on three main categories:

  • Supply – particularly manufacturers of cooling equipment and technologies including refrigerants but also project developers, installers and maintenance businesses;
  • Demand – customers and end users ranging from retailers with high cooling loads to landlords and logistics companies;
  • Enablers – other actors including engineers, architects, distributors, building operators and maintenance companies, trade associations and member organizations and innovators.