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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

If You Fix This, You Fix a Big Piece of the Climate Puzzle

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Fixing air-conditioning is, let’s face it, not the most exciting solution to climate change. Perhaps for the same reason that remodeling a kitchen is more enticing than replacing a water heater, devising greener refrigerant chemicals will never make headlines like solar installations or electric cars do. You just can’t take a great selfie with the inside of an air-conditioner.

….fixing how we cool ourselves may also help fix the climate. New research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California indicates that adding improved efficiency in refrigeration and phasing out fluorinated gases used for cooling, as mandated by international agreement, could eliminate a full degree Celsius of warming by 2100. Given that the “business as usual” trajectory leads to 4 to 5 degrees Celsius of warming, that is shaving off a pretty big slice….

…Scientists, activists and business leaders are meeting in Bangkok this week to discuss how to finance the phasing out of HFCs. Many there said they were confident the amendment would survive….

Efficiency doesn’t require a global treaty. It does, however, call for new regulatory policies on manufacturing standards and labeling.  It matters, researchers say, because cooling has a direct relationship with the building of coal-fired power plants to meet peak demand. If more air-conditioners are humming in more homes and offices, then more capacity will be required to meet the demand. So 1.6 billion new air-conditioners by 2050 means thousands of new power plants will have to come on line to support them.

The Lawrence Berkeley study argues that even a 30 percent improvement in efficiency could avoid the peak load equivalent of about 1,500 power plants by 2030….

 

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