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The Montreal Protocol continues to bring opportunities to enhance energy efficiency. The Kigali Amendment to the Protocol is not only encouraging a shift towards low global warming coolants, it is also stimulating improved energy efficiency in the refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump sectors.

The Montreal Protocol helps to achieve the overall SDG7 aim of ensuring ‘universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services’ (Target 7.1), particularly by contributing to SDG Target 7.3 to ‘double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.’

The successful phase-out of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) under the Montreal Protocol has stimulated profound changes in refrigeration and air-conditioning. The need to phase out ODSs was the primary driver of change but, in achieving this goal, manufacturers have also taken the opportunity to develop more energy efficient systems. As reported by the Protocol’s Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP), the efficiency of refrigerators doubled between 1994 and 2015. This improved efficiency has been driven by the shift to ozone-safe refrigerants and improved foam insulation. TEAP go on to conclude that just considering domestic refrigerators, improved energy efficiency has avoided an increase in power demand that would otherwise have required building ten new 500 MW power stations a year.

Even with those improvements, total energy used in refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pumps accounts for almost 8 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The Montreal Protocol continues to work to reduce this major source of greenhouse gases. This is part of its wider commitment to ensuring that improved protection of the ozone layer does not undermine climate protection. A new opportunity for the Protocol to further improve energy efficiency grows from its Kigali Amendment, agreed in 2016. The Kigali Amendment introduces controls on ODS replacements, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), that are powerful greenhouse gases. HFCs are used especially in air-conditioning and refrigeration. As well as encouraging the use of climate-safe refrigerants in place of high global warming HFCs, the Kigali Amendment is encouraging a further shift to even more energy efficient refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. 

This contribution to SDG7, by promoting more sustainable use of air-conditioning, also contributes to delivering SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and more generally to ensuring sustainable consumption and production (SDG12).