World Ozone Day: Time to Move to Greener Cooling Alternatives

– Cooling is energy intensive, accounting for 10 percent of all global electricity consumed, scientists said.

John Cassim

Harare, Zimbabwe (CZ) – As the world commemorates World Ozone Day, a call has been made for nations to find alternative cooling that is less energy-intensive.

The 16th of September is the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commonly known as World Ozone Day, and the theme this year is “Montreal Protocol: Fixing the Ozone Layer and Reducing Climate Change.”

On September 16, 1987, the world adopted the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

When scientists discovered that man-made chemicals used in our daily lives were creating a massive hole in the ozone layer, governments and decision-makers realised they had to act.

99 of the ozone-depleting chemicals have been phased out of production, and the 2022 quadrennial reports by the assessment panels to the Montreal Protocol released in 2023 confirmed that ozone layer recovery is on track, with ozone expected to return to 1980 values by around the middle of this century.

But in phasing out ozone-depleting chemicals, the world switched to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCS) as an alternative.

While HFCS don’t harm the ozone layer, they are potent greenhouse gases that cause climate change, some thousands of times more than CO2.

Nearly 80 percent of all HFCS globally is used for cooling, keeping us comfortable and our food and medicines fresh.

Cooling is energy intensive, accounting for 10 percent of all global electricity consumed.

Knowing this and how the climate has already benefited from phasing out ozone-harming chemicals, the parties to the Montreal Protocol knew they needed to react.

The Kigali Amendment came into force in January 2019, and more than 150 countries have already ratified the amendment to phase down these climate-damaging HFCS and replace them with greener alternatives.

– The Zimbabwean case

“The Government of Zimbabwe ratified the Kigali Amendment on October 18, 2022, and is implementing activities to phase down the use of HFCs in all sectors.

In line with this development, my ministry reviewed the old regulations and promulgated new ones to control the use of hydrofluorocarbons in addition to ozone-depleting substances. The revised regulations were promulgated through SI 49 of 2023 on April 11, 2023,” Mangaliso Ndlovu, Minister of Environment, Climate, and Wildlife, said.

The Zimbabwean Environment Ministry works closely with customs officers and environmental officers at major ports of entry and stations across the country to enforce the provisions of these regulations.

While the regulations control the import and use of substances that deplete the ozone layer and cause global warming, they also facilitate local industries operations in a sustainable manner.

Compared to other countries, Zimbabwe is doing much better in this regard, according to the minister.

“The planet is heating up, which increases the need for air conditioning in homes, supermarkets, schools, and workplaces. At the same time, expanding access to a sustainable cold chain to keep food fresh and vaccines viable This is essential to meeting sustainable development aspirations.

This growth in cooling demand must be sustainable, which means both finding safe and environmentally friendly alternatives to HFCs and increasing the energy efficiency of cooling equipment,” Minister Ndlovu said.

Reducing HFC use is expected to avoid up to 0.5°C of global temperature rise by the end of this century while simultaneously continuing to protect the stratospheric ozone layer.

Zimbabwe is implementing the Second Stage Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) Phase Out Management Plan (HPMP).

The Second Stage HPMP will enable the country to eliminate the use of HCFCs by January 1, 2030.

The Stage 2 HPMP is being implemented in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) is working with local smallholder farmers to reduce food loss.

WFP has helped with the construction of cold hubs that are made of charcoal to regulate temperatures.

It adequately addresses the problem of post-harvest losses in fruits, vegetables, and other perishable foods.

This is an example of greener cooling that is already changing lives in Zimbabwe.

Scientists estimate such innovation can avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century if energy efficiency technology in cooling also improves at the same time as phasing down.

HFCS scientists estimate the climate benefits could double if this is applied to cold chains and they become more accessible and affordable.

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