Juliet Kabera, the Director-General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) has called for increased cross-sector cooperation to phase out potent greenhouse gasses known as Hydrofluorocarbons as well as cooling products that consume excessive electricity.
Hydrofluorocarbons are used in air conditioning and refrigeration electronics.
However, they are said to be powerful climate-warming gases and once phased out, the gases could reduce 0.5 degrees celsius of global warming.
The warning sounded by environmentalists follows recent studies which indicate that there are an estimated over 88,000 refrigerators in Rwanda, of which an estimated 64,000 are classified as old.
This, environmentalists noted wastes electricity worth approximately Rwf4 billion annually.
“Owning a refrigerator that helps you to keep groceries fresh and pay little for electricity as well as using air conditioners that are energy-saving is a two-fold benefit: You save money and protect the environment,” she said
REMA in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme’s United for Efficiency has launched a campaign to increase awareness on the benefits of embracing efficient cooling solutions.
The campaign focuses on encouraging the public to opt for refrigerators and air conditioners to save energy and money while at the same time protecting the environment.
The campaign is part of the Rwanda Cooling Initiative (RCOOL) which is implementing a National Cooling Strategy (NCS) on how to cost-effectively switch to sustainable cooling solutions that are consistent with the country’s sustainable development ambitions and its obligations in the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and the Paris Climate Agreement.
“The cooling initiative is providing pathways that make it easier and more affordable to buy the latest equipment which is equipped with technologies with less harm on the planet. Enhancing thermal comfort and refrigerated conditions for food and medicines are critical for the health, well-being, and economic development of the country,” Kabera added.
She also challenged the general public who may wish to buy brand-new cooling items to always check their energy consumption and whether they are free of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) gases.
“This is to make sure you also contribute to the protection of the environment,” she noted.
The phasing out strategy targets users of air conditioners and refrigerators from different settings including homes, offices, grocery stores, bars, hotels, supermarkets among others that can realize significant benefits of more energy-saving and eco-friendly cooling.
In 2016, Rwanda successfully led over 150 nations and states in a historic agreement that sought to avoid up to 0.5°C of global warming caused by substances that deplete the Ozone Layer by the end of the century.
The 2016 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol which entered into force in 2019 is an international treaty designed to phase out such powerful climate-warming gases by more than 80 per cent in the next 30 years.
In order to implement the Kigali Amendment, Rwanda enacted the National Cooling Strategy (NCS) in 2019 with the objective of optimizing the growing needs for space conditioning and refrigeration in keeping with Rwanda’s green growth pathway.
The cooling strategy helps roll out standards for cooling technologies.
According to REMA, the country has currently reduced ozone-depleting substances by 54 per cent in an effort to fully implement the Montreal protocols by 2030.
However, the journey is still long and more efforts are needed in phasing out the substances.
Rwanda has started restricting imports of air pollutant gases used by fridges and air conditioners in the country to encourage the adoption of non-polluting cooling technologies.
An inventory that was carried out by Rwanda Environment Management Authority indicates that there are over 200,000 equipment such as fridges and air conditioners among big users of such climate warming gases.