Byon October 28 2015 12:44 AM
The fast increasing demand for air conditioning and refrigeration across the world could be accelerating global warming and may smash current climate pledges of different countries to halt carbon emissions. Cooling technologies are commonly used with fossil fuels, which can provide cooler indoor conditions, but at the same time lead to a hotter planet.
The demand is believed to be the result of the warming environment and the growth of the middle class in developing economies. Naturally hot climates in regions like South and Southeast Asia could also contribute to the increasing number of households and buildings with air conditioning, the Guardian reported.
However, these technologies mostly produce cold through vapour-compression refrigeration, using refrigerant fluids, such as hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs, which absorb and release heat. The HFCs can produce greenhouse gases with the effect of about 4,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide.
The effect of manmade CO2 emissions to global warming could increase by 25 percent due to these refrigerants and the fossil fuels used to power the cooling technologies. The Earth could experience the effect by the middle of the century, according to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in The Netherlands.
In the U.S., 87 percent of buildings are already air conditioned, with a lot of electricity being used to keep facilities cool, while China and India both are fast increasing use of the cooling technologies. The power consumption for air conditioning alone is projected to increase 33-fold by 2100 around the world because of urbanisation advances and developing world incomes.
The energy consultancy E4tech has reported that some small diesel-powered fridges used in food trailers can produce almost 30 times more harmful particulate matter and six times higher amount of nitrogen oxides compared to truck engines.
In Mumbai, India, air conditioning covers around 40 percent of power use in the region, and during summer in Saudi Arabia, one billion barrels of oil are burned every year to generate power for air conditioning. Britain has also provided nearly 20 percent of its total electricity to power air conditioning and refrigeration, according to Graeme Maidment, a professor of refrigeration and air conditioning at London South Bank University.
A recent study, from The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, shows that the amount of energy consumed around the world in cooling facilities would be more than the energy for heating by 2060.
But if people would think about cold differently, it could be possible to prevent its negative effects, according to Toby Peters, a professor of power and the cold economy at the University of Birmingham. “Because solving cold, really doing it smarter, would actually do more to help the world meet its climate-change targets than almost anything else I can think of,” he told the Guardian.
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