In today’s times, one of the fastest-growing industries that satisfy a key requirement is the cooling industry. Its usage cuts across sectors, including residential cooling (domestic air conditioning and refrigeration), commercial cooling (air conditioning in large office spaces & hospitals) and industrial cooling (cold-chain, storage and transport of perishables and other specific commodities). The demand for cooling is projected to grow owing to the growth of the global population, trade & economy. More cooling, in turn, means more emissions of harmful gases which will intensify climate change. In these circumstances, it became necessary to formulate a plan to encourage the use and create awareness of sustainable cooling.
Cooling Action Plan, 2019
The India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) was launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) on 8 March 2019. India became one of the first countries in the world to launch a comprehensive plan to address the issues of cooling requirement and sustainable use. The IPAC projected the cooling demand to rise nearly 8 times by 2037-38. Based on this projection and some others, the need for such a plan was emphasised.
The ICAP is intended to assess the future cooling requirement across different sectors and find new technologies to cater to this requirement while in consonance with sustainable standards. It recognized cooling as a developmental need and that the cooling sector grows simultaneously with other related sectors.
There already exists a domestic framework dealing with climate change, in the form of policies and programmes. Additionally, India is a party to two of the most important global agreements on climate change, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol) and the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Paris Agreement). The ICAP is intended to synergize with its domestic policies and international commitments in its operation.
The ICAP recognized that cooling demand was spread across many sectors and it was prudent to deal with each sector’s requirements individually. For this purpose, seven thematic areas were identified as follows:
- Space cooling in buildings
- Air-conditioning technology
- Cold-chain and refrigeration
- Transport air-conditioning
- Refrigeration and air-conditioning sector
- Refrigerant demand and indigenous protection
- Research and development
This identification of thematic areas serves as the basis for research, recommendations and suggestions made by the ICAP.
To quote the ICAP, its overarching goal is “to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society”. To this end, five main objectives must be achieved:
- Recognition of “cooling and related areas” as a thrust area of research under national science and technology programme to support the development of technological solutions and encourage innovation challenges.
- Reduction of cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25% by 2037-38.
- Reduction of refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by 2037-38.
- Reduction of cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by 2037-38.
- Training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by 2022-23, synergizing with Skill India Mission.
The ICAP is divided into nine chapters, where each of the identified thematic areas is discussed in detail and recommendations made, keeping in view the goal of the ICAP. In its recommendations, the ICAP makes a three-fold classification:
- Short-term (to be implemented within 2019-24).
- Medium-term (to be implemented within 2024-29).
- Long-term (to be implemented within 2019-38).
Each thematic contains a list of recommendations falling within one of the above classifications, with some covering more than one.
Moreover, in its recommendations for each thematic area, the ICAP specifies the name of the bodies/policies with which ICAP will be synergized during its operation. This is done keeping in mind the complicated framework already in existence for the same goal as the ICAP.
The ICAP acknowledges that addressing the cooling demand with sustainable alternatives is its primary goal. At the same time, it also addresses other socio-economic advantages and benefits that shall result from effective implementation. They are as follows:
Space cooling in buildings:
Thermal comfort, improved health and well-being of all combined with enhanced productivity with lower electricity consumption and thus, lower operational cost.
Cold-chain and refrigeration
Better & cheaper preservation methods would lead to food security due to the prevention of food wastage. This would ultimately cause a growth in farmer’s income.
Reduced fuel consumption by transport machinery would result in energy-efficient transport which would spurt growth in the number of transportation units bettering the public transport network.
Refrigeration and air-conditioning sector
Certification of engineers and other people engaged in service provision would organize a largely (yet) unorganized sector which would boost employment opportunities and provide better livelihood options for many.
Refrigerant demand and indigenous protection
People engaged in the production and manufacturing sector would receive a boost owing to the emphasis on local industry-leading to growth in employment opportunities.
Research and development
This would result in greater opportunities for research, making India a lucrative location for investment, good research and development would lead to indigenous cost-effective low global warming potential technologies, as required by the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
As noted above, the ICAP acknowledged the functioning of different bodies and programmes already in existence to tackle climate change. For effective implementation of the ICAP, it was recommended that a single body be constituted for coordinating the work of all the ministries, state governments and local administrative bodies involved. For implementing the Montreal Protocol, there already existed an Inter-Ministerial Empowered Steering Committee (“ESC”) approved by the Union Cabinet. It was recommended that the same ESC be the body appointed to implement the provisions of the ICAP also.
The said ESC was proposed to be chaired by the Additional Secretary of the MoEF&CC while representatives of other related ministries such as power, road transport & highways, agriculture, industrial policy & promotion, representatives of various state governments, representatives of various industry associations, researchers and civil society institutions would be members.
Additionally, the Ozone Cell of the MoEF&CC would function as the ‘Cooling Secretariat’ to coordinate the functioning of different stakeholders involved: ministries (such as Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship), governmental agencies (such as Bureau of Energy Efficiency), not-for-profit organizations (such as National Skill Development Corporation and Electronics Sector Skills Council of India), think-tanks (such as National Centre for Cold-Chain Development), industry associations (such as Refrigerant Gas Manufacturers Association, Refrigeration & Air-conditioning Manufacturers Association) and different state-level departments and urban local authorities.
The need for such an inclusive and all-encompassing body stemmed from the fact that regulating the cooling industry meant treading on the territory of other stakeholders and for this reason, giving everyone a seat at the table became necessary.
Cooling, being necessary for human development on so many fronts, is certainly one of the most crucial demands in the modern-day. At the same time, because of the obvious harmful effects of this requirement, there was a need to find a golden mean to this perplexing problem.
India was one of the first countries in the world to come up with a plan for tackling this problem on a holistic scale. The ICAP is a comprehensive tool to be used as an umbrella for harmonizing and optimizing the functioning of all industries and policies which are ultimately aimed at increasing productivity whilst battling climate change and emission of harmful gases. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges that the ICAP will face is how effectively it synchronizes the functioning of all its participants, which is key to its success.
The goals set by the ICAP look 20 years into the future and thus, proper planning and implementation will decide its fate. To this end, the ICAP provides a detailed list of recommendations in the areas that it has identified to be affected by this problem to see how effectively the ICAP will prove to be tested in time.
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