Air conditioning can affect the climate in two ways: one is to consume electricity for air conditioning, and the power generation process emits a lot of greenhouse gases, except those that can use purely renewable energy; the other is air-conditioning refrigerant Leaks also release greenhouse gases.
Currently, global electricity demand is still largely dependent on fossil fuel power generation. In 2016, fossil fuel power generation accounted for 65% of the world's total power generation. Among them, coal accounts for 37%, natural gas accounts for 24%, oil accounts for 4%, and the amount of carbon dioxide generated per kWh of electricity emissions averages 505 grams.
According to this calculation, in 2016, 1.6 billion sets of air conditioners consumed 2,000 TWh of electricity (about 2.5 times of the total electricity consumption in Africa), and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted was about 1.13 billion tons, three times that of 1990. More seriously, by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants will nearly double, reaching 2.28 billion tons. These emissions will cause global warming, which may further increase the demand for air conditioning.
In addition, air-conditioning refrigerants are typically composed of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are currently alternatives to hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) used in most air conditioners in India and other developing countries. HCFCs are chemical substances that are banned from use in the 1987 Montreal Protocol and that destroy the ozone layer. HFCs are currently the fastest growing greenhouse gases in the world, and their emissions are increasing at a rate of 10% per year. Although this substance does not damage the ozone layer, it plays an important role in the global warming process, and its warming effect is thousands of times that of the same “greenhouse gas”. Some scientists say that in the next century, the surge in air-conditioning usage of HFCs alone will increase global temperatures by nearly 1°F.
Indeed, we are also “heating” the Earth while using air conditioning. In the case of increasing demand for household appliances such as air conditioners, the human-induced climate change problem will further deteriorate in the long run.
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