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Refrigeration Still Near the Top of Project Drawdown’s Climate-Mitigation List, Cutting 100Gt of Emissions

Project Drawdown, a research initiative that ranked refrigerant management the top climate-change mitigation measure out of 80 in a 2017 book, has published updated data that still puts refrigerant management in the top 10, along with a new category, alternative refrigerants.

Together, refrigerant management and alternative refrigerants would reduce more than 100Gt of CO2e emissions, according to the new data.

The 2017 book, Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, documented and ranked currently available climate-change mitigation technologies and practices based on their ability to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 2020 and 2050. 

In early March, Project Drawdown released its first major update to its original book, in a document called The Drawdown Review, available at Project Drawdown’s website. The Review, while applying the same research methodology as Drawdown, differs in some respects, such as ranking 76 technologies/practices rather than 80 (some were merged.) Some solutions changed their positions in the rankings, reflecting their level of implementation. 

Also, the Drawdown book presented one main scenario (plausible) and two other scenarios (drawdown and optimum) for the top 15 technologies/practices. The Review presents two scenarios (one and two) for all 76 technologies/practices. (Project Drawdown plans to publish a separate paper updating the optimum scenario from the book.)

“We’re always updating our methodology to better represent, to the best of our knowledge, the potential of different technologies and practices,” said Chad Frischmann, Vice President and Research Director for Project Drawdown.

In the refrigerants category, refrigerant management slipped to No. 4 under scenario one, with 57.7Gt of CO2e reduced between 2020 and 2050, a decline from Drawdown’s 89.70Gt. Under the more aggressive scenario 2, refrigerant management fell to the No. 9 spot, with slightly more (57.8Gt) CO2e emissions reduced. 

The alternative refrigerants category ranks seventh (43.5Gt reduced) in scenario one, and 10th (50.6Gt reduced) in scenario two.  This category more accurately reflects the global HFC-reduction effort underway via the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. 

By creating a separate category for alternative refrigerants, Project Drawdown reduced the size of the refrigerant management GHG reduction to 57.7Gt (or 57.8Gt) from 89.70Gt, since the transition to new refrigerants results in less HFCs to manage, noted Frischmann.

For an in-depth look at how cooling fits into Project Drawdown, see the cover story of Accelerate Magazine’s April issue, which will be published online on April 14.

We’re always updating our methodology to better represent, to the best of our knowledge, the potential of different technologies and practices.

Chad Frischmann, Project Drawdown
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