TWO YEARS ago, Trinidad and Tobago received a pledge of roughly US$5 million (TT$33.5 million) in grant funding from the Global Environment Facility to help reduce both its carbon emissions as well as substances that deplete the ozone layer-a novel approach that marries the efforts of two major international conventions.

The reduction of ozone-depleting substances is the focus of T&T’s commitments under the Montreal Protocol, an unprecedented global agreement that aims to protect the ozone layer by regulating the production and consumption of over 90 man-made chemicals that damage the same.

Reducing carbon emissions is the focus of T&T’s commitments under the Paris Agreement as well. Although small in comparison to the world’s largest polluters, T&T has the highest per-capita carbon emission in the Caribbean region, at approximately 23.87 tonnes per capita. High carbon refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) technology is being touted as a substantial contributor to this and this is further exacerbated by this country’s high demand for air-conditioning.

In response to this problem, T&T has embarked on an energy efficiency project with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which aims to develop and promote low-carbon refrigeration and air-conditioning technologies. The project is being guided by the National Ozone Unit (NOU) of the Ministry of Planning and Development. Together, the ministry, in collaboration with the UNDP, hopes to make a ‘sustainable dent’ in T&T’s environmental policy and habits.

To date, the project has made four tangible strides:

• A national cooling strategy has been developed along with national guidelines for the refrigeration and cooling sector with the aim of streamlining and standardising the industry and encouraging the adoption of efficient air-conditioning in the form of low-GWP, energy efficient cooling technologies.

• Strategic international partnerships have been established with specialist companies including the District Energy Venture (DEVCCO), among many others.

• Over five capacity-building webinars have been conducted with AC technicians, retailers, tourism investors, consumers and homeowners. Another is scheduled for World Environment Day this Sunday on the topic ‘Living Sustainable in Harmony with Nature: The Role of Passive Cooling.’ Targeted specifically at homeowners, technicians and architects, the aim of this webinar is communicate how incorporating natural airflow within a building can reduce cooling demands and thus overall energy consumption.

• District cooling is the dispersal of cooling capacity from a central source through underground pipes to several nearby buildings thereby eliminating the reliance on artificial and synthetic cooling technologies. As a result of international partnerships, two district-cooling pilot sites have been selected with a completion date of August 2024.

These combined initiatives are crucial steps towards creating the market shift required for the transition to energy-efficient low-carbon technologies in the RAC sector of Trinidad and Tobago. However, it is important that you, the public, play a pivotal role in driving the sustainability of this market shift by adopting sustainable procurement practices such as purchasing energy-efficient refrigerators and air-conditioning units.

GETTING READY: Project team evaluating potential sites for the District Cooling pilot project.

OUT WITH THE OLD?: Change is coming for more energyefficient air-conditioning than these.