• Natural Refrigerants
  • Emissions Reductions
  • Sustainability
  • Middle East
  • Africa

Shaping the Sustainable Cooling Transition in the MENA Region

Jakob Hoffmann
Apr 04, 2023

Close-up of the front panel of an air conditioning unit

Coauthored by Nesen Surmeli-Anac

Thanks to the international community’s commitment to the Montreal Protocol, 99% of banned ozone-depleting substances like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)—chemicals that were commonly used in cooling and refrigeration technologies—have now been phased out, putting the ozone layer on track to recover within the next 4 decades and helping prevent 0.5°C of global warming. This success story highlights the importance of international collaboration and the impact it can have in the battle against climate change.

We must now urgently transfer this level of commitment to the Montreal Protocol’s Kigali Amendment, which aims to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)—the chemicals that replaced CFCs following the Montreal Protocol. HFCs are extremely potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) and have a global warming potential (GWP) up to 14,800 times greater than CO2.

The Challenge: Cleaning Up Cooling

The GWP of many HFCs, combined with the energy intensity of current cooling and refrigeration technologies and our ongoing reliance on fossil fuels for energy, poses a serious challenge as we try to keep cool in a warming world.

As temperatures rise, so too does our demand for cooling. This results in higher GHG emissions—from both increased use of HFCs in cooling technologies and increased energy consumption from their operation—which further contributes to climate change and global warming. This feedback loop could have a particularly significant impact in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where temperatures are predicted to rise by 4°C by mid-century and sales of cooling appliances are growing rapidly.

To break this cycle, we must transition to more sustainable methods of cooling. This means switching to natural refrigerants that neither damage the ozone layer nor act as GHGs, while also reducing energy demand by improving the energy efficiency of appliances and buildings and adopting passive cooling measures.

The Cool Up Approach

Under the umbrella of Germany’s International Climate Initiative, Guidehouse is leading the Cool Up program, which promotes sustainable cooling in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Türkiye, as well as in the MENA region more broadly.

Along with national and international partners, Guidehouse is driving change using a holistic approach that covers policy, finance, and technology and markets. In each thematic area, Cool Up is conducting baseline studies, facilitating stakeholder dialogue, providing capacity building and training, and implementing pilot projects.

By leveraging policy stimuli and developing policy interventions, Cool Up supports the accelerated implementation of the Kigali Amendment and encourages the uptake of new, sustainable cooling technologies. Through technology demonstration projects, the program works to build trust in these new technologies, inspire innovation backed by solid evidence, and help local manufacturers convert to sustainable product lines. Finally, by developing new finance solutions, Cool Up improves access to sustainable cooling technologies.

Collaboration across all stakeholder groups will be vital to ensure consensus can be found and common goals can be identified. Broad acceptance of the issue and wide-scale participation in addressing it will enable the development of tailor-made solutions to drive the sustainable cooling transition in each partner country. At the regional level, knowledge and best practices developed through the program in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Türkiye can be easily transferred to adjacent markets without relying on a one-size-fits-all approach.

Sustainable cooling offers an opportunity to avoid significant GHG emissions, particularly in a region like MENA, where cooling demand is expected to grow quickly in the coming years. The Cool Up program, which will run until 2026, aims to effectively support partner countries in lowering their GHG emissions and meeting Kigali Amendment targets while also ensuring cooling needs are met.