The Cold Economy

Publication | June 2022

Lack of cooling and cold-chain access has significant implications for people’s livelihoods, productivity, health, food, and nutritional security. 

Lack of cooling and cold-chain access is a critical development challenge that has significant implications for people’s livelihoods, productivity, health, food, and nutritional security. While business-as-usual demand projections suggest 19 new cooling appliances will be sold every second by 2050, universal access to cooling is expected not to be a reality even at this rate of growth, leaving poor and vulnerable populations to suffer the consequences. The global demand for cooling is already pressuring the energy system and the environment and given all the social and economic benefits of cooling and cold-chain but also the environmental risks, there is now a major opportunity for governments and the private sector to develop and deploy sustainable, affordable, and resilient cooling solutions, and contribute to three internationally agreed goals simultaneously: the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals, and the Kigali Amendment to Montreal Protocol. Achieving this will require a radically different approach to cooling and cold-chain provision that starts by asking what energy services are needed and explores ways to meet them with minimum environmental impact and cost, taking into account available renewable, thermal, and waste energy resources, synergies between processes and systems, and aggregation opportunities, rather than defaulting to electricity to generate cooling. Such a system-level approach sits at the core of the Cold Economy.

WORKING PAPER NO: 1326

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  • Climate change
  • Environment
  • Energy