Rising temperatures have become a common occurrence closely associated with climate change. Experts have indicated that 2021 joins its preceding year (2020) in being the top seven warmest years on record. As temperatures continue to rise and heat events set to become more of a regular occurrence the demand for cooling will continue to increase.
Cooling is already responsible for a portion of global emissions of gases that cause climate change and the projected rise in cooling demand over the next thirty years is expected to result in a two-fold increase in cooling-related emissions over the same period. Today’s cooling technologies consume a substantial amount of energy and contain refrigerants such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) that contribute to climate change. Some refrigerants also have a damaging effect on the earth’s ultra violet radiation protective shield called the ozone layer. Damage to the ozone layer can cause an increase in unfiltered UV rays reaching the earth’s surface adding to increased skin cancer cases, eye cataracts, weakened immune systems and reduced agricultural yield.
Damage to the ozone layer has an impact on agricultural crop yield among other things.
If Trinidad and Tobago is to meet national cooling needs without adding to the climate crisis or depletion of the ozone layer then we need to ensure that the future of cooling solutions is energy efficient as well as climate and ozone friendly. In an effort to address this, Trinidad and Tobago has begun implementation of the largest ever grant funded national project under the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) entitled “Energy Efficiency through the Development of Low-carbon RAC Technologies in Trinidad and Tobago”.
The overall goal of this four-year project which began in 2020, is to create a sustained market change towards the adoption of low-carbon Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (RAC) technologies in Trinidad and Tobago, which will deliver multiple benefits at the local, regional and global levels. The project, led by the National Ozone Unit – Environmental Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Planning and Development, will utilize a public-private partnership approach engaging a diverse group of stakeholders, including but not limited to, Government Ministries, Public Agencies, Academia and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
The adoption of low-carbon Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (RAC) technologies in Trinidad and Tobago is an important part of this project. It involves a public private partnership approach.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is a fundamental partner for the overall implementation. It is expected that the project will provide global environmental benefits in terms of direct emission carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2eq) savings of at least 644,396 tCO2eq over the 4-year period.
Since 2020, work has been progressing under the GEF project. Through a coordinated approach, work is being done with stakeholders to deploy new technologies such as district cooling through pilot sites, as well as implementing demonstration projects incorporating natural refrigerants and associated equipment that are both climate and ozone friendly. Our activities under this project focus on a broad range of applications, including air conditioning and refrigeration across residential, commercial and industrial sectors, as well as supporting the integration of sustainable cold chains. The project is also working towards improving the policy and regulatory framework needed to encourage the use of these innovative technologies, in addition to improving the capacity and skills within the RAC Sector to service these new types of equipment through integration into the curricula of training institutions.
Members of the National Ozone Unit engage in public outreach in Trinicity Mall.
It is undeniable that national cooling demand is high and on the rise. It is also undeniable that we need to find ways to ensure demand is met with minimal impacts to our environment. The GEF energy efficiency project is an exemplary demonstration of the utilization of different approaches to deploying energy efficiency initiatives targeted toward the refrigeration and air conditioning sector.
So what’s next? We are exploring ways we can integrate sustainable finance and gender across all of our work so that we can build a strong foundation, while placing the environment at the forefront of our national development.