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Cool chain “iceberg” looms says study

Doing cold smarterBIRMINGHAM, UK: Britain's University of Birmingham warns that lack of adequate cold storage causes two million preventable deaths each year and results in the loss of 200 million tonnes of food in developing markets.

A report by the university claims that if no action is taken the worldwide increase in demand for cooling will raise greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 per year within 15 years – three times the current energy emissions of Britain.

Other conclusions in the university's study suggest refrigeration and air conditioning causes 10 percent of global CO2 emissions – three times more than aviation; the global reefer truck fleet could quadruple to 18 million by 2025; EU pollution costs of refrigerated vehicles is expected to rise to £22 billion by 2025; and worldwide demand for cooling will overtake heating 60 percent by 2050.

According to the report, an effective cold chain is essential for tackling food waste, water conservation and public health. It also says the Internet could be severely affected as data centers cannot operate without sufficient cooling.

Toby Peters, visiting professor of Power and Cold Economy at the university commented: "I have long argued that cold is the Cinderella of the energy debate. There has been a myopic focus on heat and electricity, ignoring the iceberg that is coming our way.

"As the planet warms and as people in Asia, Latin America and Africa become richer, the global demand for cooling will boom. Unless we find a way to provide genuinely sustainable and energy efficient refrigeration, air conditioning, and chilled transportation, then the impact on CO2 targets and air pollution will become insurmountable," he added.

Peters said the looming threat could be turned into a "huge opportunity" with the creation of new technologies to reshape and integrate infrastructure: "Clean cold technologies can be cleaner, more effective and cheaper to run than incumbent fossil fuelled systems. The challenge is to get them into the market, to make them as appealing as possible and to integrate them to maximize the benefit they bring."

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