A Cool World: 1st International Congress on Clean Cooling

On April 18 and 19, the University of Birmingham brought together over 100 cooling and energy efficiency decision-makers and experts to discuss the urgent topic of how to meet our global demand for cooling sustainability and build cooperation to find ways to provide access to affordable and sustainable cooling solutions for all.

The world’s first ‘clean cold’ conference was opened with a double keynote addressed by Sir David Kind, Chair of the Regional Energy Policy Commission and former Special Representative for Climate Change UK and Pawanexh Kohli, Chief advisor and CEO for the National Centre for Cold-chain Development in India.

Congress attendees, had also the opportunity to listen to the opening remarks of Ian Crosby, Head of Cooling For All, an initiative created by Sustainable Energy for All and the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme.

Clean Cooling has the potential to advance three internationally agreed goals simultaneously: the Paris Climate Agreement, the Sustainable Developmental Goals and the Montreal protocol’s Kigali Amendment. Therefore, and as stated during this pioneering congress, clean cooling has the potential to address effectively poverty, reduce food loss, improve citizens general well-being, raise energy efficiency, manage our national resources and support sustainable cities and communities while fighting climate change.

Professor Toby Peters, chairman of the coolingEU Academic Mirror Group and one of the ambassadors and minds behind the organization of the event, together with Professor Martin Freer, underlined that ‘The growth of artificial cooling is already having a major environmental impact; left unchecked it could be responsible for more than 13% of total global emissions by 2030. This is an urgent crisis. We need to work together to progress how we provide sustainable affordable cooling services to all. Not just technologies but also new business models, policy, skills, capacity building and training which will be required.’


The different topics covered during the congress englobed all the key matters that affect cooling supply and accessibility. Urbanization, accessibility in developed countries, food and cold chains and thermal storage were some of the most discussed subjects.

IW2On the matter of urbanization, 77 million people per year are moving to urban areas, specially in developed regions. This presents and extra challenge to supply cities with clean, sustainable and affordable cooling. On this matter, Ingo Wagner, coordinator of coolingEU hosted a plenary discussion together with Professor Graeme Maiment from London South Bank University and Guillermo Martinez from the company Araner to identify, among others technologies, the value that district cooling brings as an integral energy infrastructure to reduce strain on the electric grid caused by increasing demand while ensuring reliability and safety. Effective cooling supply is key to sustainable urbanization and promotes economic growth at the local level.

Another key topic during the congress was the food chain. Pawanexh Kohli, chief executive at the National Centre for Cold-chain Development in India underlined during her intervention that ‘“Feeding the planet is not just the business of farmers. Refrigerated logistics is critical to managing our food resources, expanding market frontiers and reducing food loss (…) At the same time we also need to reduce the impact of our logistics on our environment, and that requires international collaboration. We need innovation today, to develop the sustainable cold chain of tomorrow.” On the matter of the benefits of the cold chain, Rosa Rolle from UNFAO, emphasized that the cold chain is an important driver to enable rural transformation in developed countries: ‘The cold chain not only increases food security by preserving the food and reducing waste but it also presents economic benefits for entrepreneurs while increasing the income of local producers’’

This Congress has been the first of its kind and after its successful first edition, it is to be expected that it will become a regular congress to define and accelerate to market solutions to deliver clean cooling from a multitude of different perspectives.