In contrast to the artificial refrigerants CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs, natural refrigerants are substances occurring in nature. The “natural 5” are CO2, ammonia, hydrocarbons, air and water and they have no ozone depleting potential, no or negligible global warming potential.
Emissions due to energy consumption are even higher than emissions from refrigerants. As long as electricity generation (or vehicle powering) is linked to CO2 emissions through the burning of fossil fuels, the only way of reducing indirect emissions is making air conditioners and refrigerators of all sizes more efficient.
Standards are not mandatory, but especially in developing countries without their own standardisation bodies, international standards are often adopted as national standards and sometimes made into laws.
Direct emissions are due to the release of refrigerant. They can occur during normal operation because of leaks from pipes and components. Without appropriate recovery and recycling facilities, most direct emissions occur when the refrigerant is exchanged during regular servicing or when a unit is dismantled (end-of-life emissions). Direct emissions are given in CO2 equivalents and weighted according to the global warming potential (GWP) of refrigerants. Even though the amount of refrigerant in small units is only in the range of grams to a few kilograms, the high GWP of HCFCs and HFCs means that direct emissions contribute approximately 1/3 to total GHG emissions from the RAC sector.
Indirect emissions are due to energy consumption. They contribute the other 2/3 of the total emissions. These depend heavily on the source of electricity and how much CO2 is emitted during its generation and are therefore different for each country. Indirect emissions can be reduced by raising the energy efficiency of a product or by decarbonising electricity production. Calculations on this website focus only on potential CO2 emission reductions achieved by energy efficiency measures; the introduction of less carbon intensive renewable energies is not accounted for in the calculations. Indirect emissions are also given in CO2 equivalents.
The Green Cooling Technologies Study tracks global market trends of key refrigeration and air conditioning subsectors. For more information, request the full PDF publication here.