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World Bank launches sustainable cooling program

The World Bank has announced new program to accelerate the uptake of sustainable cooling solutions, including air conditioning, refrigeration and cold chain, in developing countries. The program will provide technical assistance to ensure that efficient cooling is included in new World Bank Group investment projects and will mobilise further financing.

Cooling collaboration

The Efficient Clean Cooling Program will be led by the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and the World Bank’s Climate Change Group. It is being established thanks to a $3 million grant to ESMAP from the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP) – which recently rebranded as the Clean Cooling Collaborative to represent a more holistic approach to tackle the environmental impacts from across the sector.

“Efficient, clean cooling can contribute significantly to a stable climate and cut energy costs at the same time,” says Dan Hamza-Goodacre, K-CEP Executive Director.

“However, financing is needed to cover the capital costs of cooling technology, especially in developing countries. That is why K-CEP is excited to partner with the World Bank to mobilise the investments required to make cooling for all a reality.”

According to the World Bank, the program will help countries develop the necessary market infrastructure, financing mechanisms, and policies and regulations to deploy sustainable cooling at scale. It will focus on air conditioning, refrigeration and cold chain, cool surfaces such as reflective roofs, walls and pavements, and mitigation of urban heat island effects. Another area of focus will be working with public and private sector partners to raise awareness around efficient, clean cooling opportunities in emerging markets.

Through the program, the World Bank says it will mobilise its expertise across sectors such as transport, energy, agriculture and urban areas. It will also work with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to lay the groundwork for a pipeline of new projects that could be supported by the World Bank Group or other sources of financing. These efforts will be complemented by the development of a series of technical studies and knowledge exchanges.

An urgent need

The World Bank notes that there is an urgent need to invest in sustainable cooling solutions. One billion people lack access to sustainable cooling solutions, which impacts health, food security, productivity and growth. Lack of cold storage and refrigerated transport contributes to 1.5 million vaccine-preventable deaths and the waste of about one-third of the total food produced annually. By 2050, work hours lost due to excessive heat could result in 6 per cent of lost GDP annually in the worst affected regions of South Asia and West Africa.

At the same time the world is heading for a “cold crunch”, with energy use for cooling projected to triple by 2050. Also by 2050, estimates show that demand for cooling in countries in the tropics and subtropics such as India, China, Brazil, and Indonesia will grow fivefold, which will put pressure on already strained energy systems, and hamper efforts to curb climate change.

Further exacerbating the issue, rising temperatures will increase demand for cooling appliances, which not only use large amounts of energy, but also leak refrigerants that contribute to global warming.

“Sustainable cooling is a fundamental part of the energy transition,” says Rohit Khanna, Manager of the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program at the World Bank. “Meeting the growing demand for cooling services without compromising climate change goals will require substantial investments in energy-efficient cooling solutions that are affordable and accessible to developing countries. This is exactly what the new program is set to do and as such, it will underpin the World Bank’s longer-term strategy on sustainable cooling.”

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