China's Cooling Imperative

June 04, 2021


China's Cooling Imperative

June 04, 2021

Michael Frank

Manager, Policy and insights

Michael Frank (Manager, Policy & Insights, Asia) leads both internal advisory and external thought leadership and advocacy research programmes. He specialises in the intersection of technology and geopolitics. His research has covered themes including the impact of emergent technologies (AI, 5G, IoT), international influence in technology policymaking, and geopolitics-driven technological decoupling. Recently, Michael managed the research programme behind The cost of de-globalising world trade: economic scenarios for the world's turn inwards. Michael advises Asia-based clients on incorporating macro trends into strategy. He also represents Economist Impact's editorial views in interviews with Asia-based media. He holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and economics from Colgate University.

China’s Cooling Imperative is an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report, commissioned by the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP). The findings are based on an extensive literature review, an expert interview programme and a modelling exercise conducted by The EIU between January and March 2020.

Cooling is a major contributor to climate change, accounting for at least 9% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. China is the world’s largest producer of cooling equipment. 70% of the world’s air conditioners are made in and exported from China. China is also the world’s leading user of household cooling equipment, accounting for 22% of installed household air conditioning units and 18% of the world’s residential refrigerators.

As a consequence, China is the world leader in emissions from cooling, comprising roughly one third of global cooling emissions. As rapid urbanisation and economic development continues, The Economist Intelligence Unit expects that cooling emissions could grow to 2,005 Mt by 2030, representing a 48% increase over 2019 levels.

Yet China has a major opportunity to substantially reduce and even arrest that growth, limiting China’s emissions to 1,417Mt per year in 2030 or 29% lower than the baseline scenario. In this report, The EIU assesses the main policy levers available to the Chinese government for greening the cooling sector and quantifies the impact on future greenhouse gas emissions.

Expert advisors
We would like to thank our expert advisors for their support and insights throughout the programme:

  • Li Pengcheng, Director, China National Institute of Standardisation
  • Nihar Shah, Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Cooling Efficiency Research Program
  • Han Wei, Deputy Programme Director, Energy Foundation China

Our thanks are due to the following people for their time and insights:

  • Stephen O. Anderson, American Director of Research, Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development
  • Patrick Blake, Programme Officer, UN Environment United for Efficiency
  • Didier Coulomb, Director General, International Institute of Refrigeration
  • Andrew DeLaski, Executive Director, Appliance Standards Awareness Project
  • Chao Ding, Postdoctoral Researcher, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, International Energy Analysis Department
  • Frank Gao, Professor, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences Center for Climate Impact Research
  • Henry Ha, Chief Executive Officer, Met Cold
  • Ben Hartley, Policy Specialist, Sustainable Energy for All
  • Hu Shan, Professor, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University
  • Hu Xiaohong, Professor, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University
  • Jiang Yi, Deputy Director, China HVAC Association
  • Jiang Lin, Chair for China Energy Policy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Philipp Munzinger,
  • Project Manager, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH) Proklima Niu Yongming, Marketing Manager, Honeywell
  • Dietram Oppelt, Managing Director, HEAT
  • Won Young Park, Senior Research Associate, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • JB Rae-Smith, Chairman, United States Cold Storage
  • Wang Lei, Contact Officer, Beijing Association of Refrigeration
  • Wei Xingpeng, Associate Professor, Tsinghua University, Building Energy Research Center
  • Zheng Wenbo, Engineer, China Electric Power Planning and Engineering Institute Zhou Hongchun, Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry

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