Chairing the session, John Gummer, former UK Environment Secretary, highlighted the power of sustainable partnership between business, NGOs and the United Nations, demonstrated in the RN project: "Looking back 5 years, only few cared about refrigeration as a major source of greenhouse gas emission. Today, nobody would question climate change and the role the retail industry needs to play. The Refrigerant, Naturally! project has been a successful example of how refrigeration could be made interesting to the general public", he said.
Following a welcome address and Gummer’s keynote speech, all RN members and the two official sponsors Greenpeace and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provided an outlook on the future of natural refrigerants in the retail industry:
UNEP: Rajendra Shende, head of the OzonAction branch of UNEP, confirmed that the RN project has proved a success with all members still actively committed to its original targets. Being in a “constant revolution”, the refrigeration industry would now have to work on a further improvement of natural refrigerants’ energy efficiency. Most importantly, Shende warned that if current industry trends continue, HFCs’ overall contribution to global warming pollution could increase from 1.5% today to up to over 8% by 2050. F-gases could thus do as much environmental harm as all passenger cars combined today. He insisted that applying the role model of sustainable business initiatives, such as Refrigerants, Naturally!, also to other industries would be key in preventing a further increase in HFC concentrations.
Greenpeace: Alternatives to HFCs with proven energy efficiency are already available today, and “the time to shift away from F-gases has come”, Paula Tejon from Greenpeace stated. In 2009, the green NGO will therefore focus on the elimination of all HFCs, working with regulatory bodies, driving media campaigns, and helping to bring companies working with natural refrigerants together. Greenpeace’s campaign will target specifically China and the USA.
About Refrigerants, Naturally!
The Refrigerants, Naturally! Initiative was founded by TCCC, McDonalds, and Unilever in 2004. Two years later, Carlsberg, IKEA and PepsiCo joined the project to promote a shift in the point-of-sale technology towards natural refrigerants, to develop timetables to progressively replace fluorocarbons (CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs), and share technical information.