The U.K. Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey has announced a total of £5.2 million (€5.9 million, US$6.5 million) in funding to help developing countries transition to sustainable cooling methods, according to a statement from the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Of the total amount, £4 million (€4.5 million, US$5 million) will go towards phasing out the use of HFCs in air-conditioning, refrigeration and the cold chain. This funding comes from the U.K. Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain program.

The money will go to the African Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES), which is based in Kigali, Rwanda, and delivers training to a variety of stakeholders to support the adoption of more energy-efficient and climate-friendly cooling.

This investment follows the U.K.’s initial £12 million (€13.6 million, US$15 million) in funding for sustainable cooling in developing countries, which was announced at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in 2021.

The remaining £1.2 million (€1.4 million, US$1.5 million) has been allocated towards the development of a roadmap and virtual modelling tools to help stakeholders pilot different sustainable-cooling techniques prior to implementing them. According to DEFRA, this will enable them to deploy the most efficient, cost-effective and sustainable approaches.

Reduced emissions and food loss

In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the phasedown of HFCs and the enhanced energy efficiency of equipment, the funding will also boost food security and healthcare access through more reliable cold chains.

“This funding will help developing countries to play their part in tackling climate change and communities across the world with storing food and medicines more efficiently – as well as support farmers to increase their productivity,” said Coffey.

According to DEFRA, up to 40% of certain crops are lost before reaching the marketplace, impacting farmer productivity and income.

“Sustainable and equitable cooling and cold chain is now more than ever critical infrastructure in a warming world,” said Toby Peters, Professor of Cold Economy at the University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University. “This [program] delivers an integrated approach that includes on-the-ground training and support for subsistence farmers and their communities, financeable business models and the network of skilled engineers needed to support equipment installation and maintenance.”

“Sustainable and equitable cooling and cold chain is now more than ever critical infrastructure in a warming world.”

Toby Peters, University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University

Peters also leads a collaboration of U.K. universities supporting work on sustainable cooling in Africa and India.

U.K. leadership

Coffey announced the funding on April 20 as she welcomed a delegation of climate scientists from Independent Assessment Panels for the UN Montreal Protocol, as well as representatives from ACES, the UN Environment Programme’s United for Efficiency initiative, U.K. academia, NGOs and the private sector, at a reception hosted by the U.K. government.

During the event, participants discussed next steps of the Montreal Protocol and its Kigali Amendment.

According to DEFRA, the U.K. is a global leader in the fight against climate change and has demonstrated early action on the phasedown of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.

“The UK continues to cut consumption of hydrofluorocarbons at a faster pace than required under the Kigali Amendment to the UN Montreal Protocol,” it said. “Since 2015, levels have been reduced by 55% and by 2030 this will have phased down by 79% under existing legislation.”