- The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is launching a project in six African countries to replace ageing refrigeration systems with more energy-efficient versions and cut down on the consumption of ozone-depleting chemical compounds.
The €5.3 million project aims to replace the existing chillers – the refrigeration systems that produce chilled water for cooling air in commercial, residential and industrial processes – which use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) with newer, cleaner models.
More than 460,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions could be saved every year as a result of the programme, according to a UNIDO press release issued today, and there will also be a direct phase-out of about 80 tons of CFCs needed for servicing the chillers annually.
Hundreds of chillers in Cameroon, Egypt, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan will be overhauled under the project, which is being co-financed by the French Global Environment Facility.
Kandeh K. Yumkella, UNIDO’s Director-General, said the scheme “will help remove relevant barriers and includes the transfer of green technology, the creation of a working fund mechanism, the management of CFC stockpiles, and the dissemination of awareness to chiller operators and end-users, as well as to the governments of the countries involved.”
An international team of scientific researchers warned last month that hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases present a significant threat to global efforts to stabilise climate change.
The scientific paper published by the researchers highlighted the need for urgent action over the HFC group of greenhouse gases, arguing that their use could climb sharply as replacements for gases being phased out to protect the ozone layer, such as CFCs)
“By some estimates, action to freeze and then reduce this group of gases [HFCs] could buy the world the equivalent of a decades-worth of C02 emissions,” Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director had said, while also stressing that cutting carbon dioxide emissions was the key to accelerating a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient ‘green economy.’
According to UNEP, if HFC growth continues unchecked, by 2050 the amount of gas produced could total nine Giga tons, or the equivalent of 45 percent of total CO2 emissions.
The projected growth in production and consumption of HFCs is in part linked with the success of the UNEP-administered Montreal Protocol, which has successfully phased out 97 percent of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer.
In 2007, countries meeting in Canada, under the Montreal Protocol, agreed to speeding up the freeze and phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) – chemicals designed to replace the old, more ozone-damaging CFCs.
The recent research findings in the PNAS indicate that unless urgent measures are taken to restrict HFCs, countries and companies are likely to pick this group of gases to replace HCFCs in products such as air conditioning units, refrigeration and insulating foams.
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