ClimateWorks Australia’s new study says that more efficient cooling is vital for a low-carbon future.
ClimateWorks Australia, a Melbourne, Australia-based nonprofit consulting firm supporting low-carbon alternatives, has released a report on how Australia can reduce its carbon emissions, noting the role natural refrigerants can play.
“Transitioning to natural refrigerants will also offer significant emissions-reduction opportunities,” says the new report, titled “Decarbonisation Futures: Solutions, actions and benchmarks for a net zero emissions Australia.”
The report’s leading claim is that “Australia can achieve net-zero emissions before 2050 through accelerated deployment of mature and demonstrated zero-emissions technologies.” Moreover, it describes an environmentally sustainable future that is also economically feasible.
Alongside a need to change industrial practices to more efficient and cost-effective alternatives generally, the report highlights that more efficient cooling is vital for the future.
In key sectors such as building, “[m]ost of the solutions required to achieve zero emissions…are mature and commercially competitive or have been demonstrated at scale,” the report says. Regardless of which technologies or methods are eventually adopted, energy reduction will be critical. One way to cut energy consumption, the report adds, is through “the construction of buildings with low energy requirements for lighting, heating and cooling.”
In addition to cooling, the report notes the viability of heat pumps as low-to-zero emission alternatives to gas heating. The report notes heat pumps like split system air conditioning can “deliver a five- to seven-fold improvement in the energy efficiency of space heating.”
The report notes that heat pumps’ efficacy has been demonstrated for residential applications as well as induction cooking.
Released on April 4, “Decarbonisation Futures” comes as Australia is defining its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which may prioritize economic gains over climate considerations.
On April 2, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison anticipated a “snapback to pre-existing arrangements,” like those before the pandemic. However, as the ClimateWorks report notes, under those arrangements, utilities and refrigerants in Australia’s industry sector contributed 28 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent alone in 2018.
Other commentators have noted as much. “Rather than creating green economies as they seek to spend their way out of the crisis, they will lock in dirty industries, equipment and infrastructure and be left unable to act due to eye-watering deficits in the last critical decade we have to avert the predicted catastrophe,” said Nick O’Malley and Mike Foley in a report in The Age.