Chilling Prospects 2022: Lessons learned from developing the India Cooling Action Plan

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Chilling Prospects 2022

Reflections on five years of the Kigali Amendment by the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE)

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Climate change-induced warming trends, population growth and rapid urbanization are driving an unprecedented increase in the global demand for cooling across sectors, including thermal comfort in buildings, food supply chains, storage and transfer of medical products, transport of people, and industrial processes. This growth in cooling is linked with the socioeconomic progress of countries as they work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). India currently has low access to cooling, but its economic progress, coupled with global warming trends, will drive an eight-times increase in the demand for cooling in the next two decades. While India’s projected cooling growth is in step with its development needs, this growth, under a business-as-usual scenario, will strain existing power systems and have an adverse impact on the environment.  

India’s Ozone Cell of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), has developed a plan to harmonize the energy efficiency of refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment with refrigerant transition pathways for enhanced climate action (as agreed in the 29th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol). Launched in March 2019, the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) is the first-of-its-kind initiative of its scale in the cooling sector to be taken by any country globally that underscores the urgency of proactively and collaboratively addressing cooling growth. It strikes a balanced approach to goal-setting by establishing high-level nationwide targets while allowing line ministries flexibility in setting their own targets within a directional framework of recommendations.

ICAP’s high-level goals are:

  • reduction of cooling demand across sectors by 20–25 percent
  • reduction of refrigerant demand by 25–30 percent,
  • reduction of cooling energy requirements by 25–40 percent, all by 2037–38
  • training and certification of 100,000 service technicians by 2022–23
  • recognizing cooling and related areas as a focus area of research under the national science and technology programme.

The Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE) was closely involved in the ICAP development process from inception to completion. AEEE led two of the seven working groups established for sector-specific analysis (space cooling in buildings and the food cold chain), supported the Ozone Cell in synthesizing and integrating the working-group outputs into a cohesive ICAP report, and provided strategic guidance in the Steering and the Inter-ministerial Committees.  

AEEE’s key lessons and takeaways from the ICAP development process 

Key lessons and takeaways from the ICAP development process

It has been just over three years since the launch of the ICAP. Programmes and initiatives are already underway to advance the Plan, despite a slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AEEE is supporting the operationalization of ICAP through multiple avenues: as part of the Implementation Steering Committee established by the Ozone Cell, as part of the India Cooling Coalition and directly through a multi-year programme to implement ICAP recommendations.

One limitation of the ICAP development process was not including macroeconomic modelling to evaluate the impact of cooling on emissions. Incorporating such a modelling exercise would make the analytical outcomes more robust and is considered a future area of improvement. In parallel, the ongoing collaboration and alignment between the MoEF&CC and other line ministries to help effectively execute the ICAP is important. 

ICAP has placed India on the international radar and garnered significant interest in supporting global momentum for the creation of National Cooling Action Plans (NCAPs). The ICAP experience has been influential in guiding the ‘global’ NCAP Methodology developed by AEEE under the leadership of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Economic and Social Commission (UNESCAP) and supported by the Cool Coalition’s NCAP Working Group.

Beyond the direct application for cooling action plans in other countries, the ICAP lessons are relevant to environmental and climate-related policymaking in key areas such as sustainable urban development, greenhouse gas (GHG) net-zero pathways for cities or regions, low-climate impact mobility solutions, including the transition to electric vehicles, and waste management. 

Chilling Prospects

Chilling Prospects 2022

Sustainable cooling policy progress




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