Efficient and Clean Cooling | Program Profile

city buildings and urban efficiency

By 2030, over half of the world’s population will live in climates with high temperatures, including more than a billion people in developing countries. This will lead to increased exposure to potentially dangerous heat conditions, especially for those already considered at risk because of the lack of access to cooling.   

Access to sustainable cooling is no longer a luxury in a world with rising temperatures. It has become an issue of equity, resilience, and sustainable development that impacts various sectors, including agriculture and health.  Extreme heat and lack of access to cooling threaten people’s safety, productivity, well-being, and health. It also impacts the quality and safety of food and medicine that rely on cooling.  Unfortunately, today’s cooling technologies consume massive amounts of energy, putting pressure on many already inadequate or strained energy systems and increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

As countries worldwide face the sustainable development challenge of providing access to cooling while minimizing the negative climate impact, the issue needs to be a part of inclusive energy transition efforts.   

In 2019, ESMAP launched the Efficient and Clean Cooling Program with seed funding from the philanthropic Clean Cooling Collaborative (formerly Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program). The program, which has since been included as a key component of ESMAP’s 2021-2024 Business Plan, was designed to develop a new cooling business line at ESMAP. It aims to leverage the World Bank Group’s balance sheet to mainstream and integrate efficient and clean cooling in relevant World Bank policy dialogues and lending operations (IBRD and IDA), thus accelerating the adoption and deployment of sustainable, climate-friendly, and reliable cooling solutions. It also seeks to help governments gather the required information and undertake essential assessments to underpin evidence-based decision-making. The program works to strengthen the enabling environment, develop the necessary market infrastructure, and design and operate financing mechanisms and business models.

The Efficient and Clean Cooling program incorporates energy efficiency (active and passive solutions), adopts renewable energy solutions, and supports the transition to more climate-friendly refrigerants (aligned with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol). It works across multiple sectors such as health, agriculture (horticulture, dairy, fisheries), buildings, and urban spaces in developing countries, mainly focusing on space cooling (energy-efficient buildings and air conditioning), refrigeration, and cold chains, and the mitigation of urban heat island effects.

The Efficient and Clean Cooling program’s approach consists of the following:

  • Providing technical assistance. It uses grants and in-kind technical support to help prepare, design, and implement efficient and clean cooling in World Bank Group lending and policy dialogues.
  • Creating knowledge products and facilitating knowledge exchanges on various topics associated with increasing access to sustainable cooling solutions.
  • Improving awareness of clean and efficient cooling techniques at various platforms and fora. This includes internally, within the World Bank Group, and externally among development partners and relevant stakeholders.
  • Mobilizing financial resources (including climate finance) to support the implementation of sustainable cooling solutions.
  • Collaborating with partner organizations to broadly amplify the impact of the collective work to advance the efficient and clean cooling agenda.  Partners include the Clean Cooling Collaborative, Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), the Cool Coalition, WHO/UNICEF/Gavi, and the Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE).

Our Work

  1. Technical Assistance Support. Between 2020 and 2022, the Efficient and Clean Cooling program allocated grants and provided technical assistance to support more than 30 activities and dialogues across several countries, including Argentina, Bangladesh, Cabo Verde, China, Comoros, Costa Rica, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guatemala, India, Jordan, Malawi, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nigeria, Niger, Panama, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. The activities supported and informed country dialogues and operations led by different teams in IFC and the World Bank Global Practices such as Agriculture, Energy, Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation, Health, Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land.

Some examples of supported projects include:

  • COVID-19 Pandemic Response. The program has contributed financially and technically to the World Bank’s COVID-19 pandemic response efforts and the rollout of vaccines. It has supported the deployment of reliable and climate-friendly vaccine cold chains in collaboration with partners such as the WHO/UNICEF/Gavi and contributed to strengthening the health systems in client countries. The program has allocated more than US$9 million in grants to 15+ countries. An example of this is ESMAP’s grant for the deployment of climate-friendly solar direct drive refrigerators in South Sudan which directly impacts over a million people in the country. The program has also provided in-kind technical expertise, such as project activities in Mongolia, highlighted in an ESMAP IMPACT story.
  • Livestock and Dairy Cold Chain in Bangladesh. Less than 10 percent of the operational activities of both dairy and meat production sub-sectors in Bangladesh are modern and developed.  The remaining 90 percent rely on traditional and informal methods.  Even in the formal sector, clean and energy-efficient temperature-controlled equipment are rarely used to store and process perishable food products.  Nevertheless, the demand for dairy and meat is expected to rise as the population in the country increases to include a growing middle-class. However, to enhance the efficiency from farm to table, the cold chain infrastructure will need to be developed to expand production capacity along the entire value chain of these sub-sectors, including improved animal breeding, agronomy, etc.  This could have substantial, positive economic and public health implications, including creating jobs in rural and peri-urban areas and introducing new technology and skills. Furthermore, improved food safety and security would lead to better consumer health outcomes.  In addition, expanding the cold chain and making it climate-friendly would have tremendous benefits, leading to a decrease in GHG emissions, reduced operational costs, and increased reliability.

The Clean Cooling program grant support is also helping to inform the World Bank’s Clean and Energy Efficient Cooling for Livestock Supply Chains in Bangladesh lending operation. The expected outputs include a comprehensive diagnostic of the refrigeration requirements for the livestock value chain and the identification of climate-friendly solutions and business models adapted to Bangladesh.

  • Supporting Horticulture in Rwanda. Agriculture is still the dominant form of livelihood in Rwanda. While it continues to gain momentum, it has still not achieved its full potential.  The agri-food sector is one of the main drivers of growth. It is a crucial industry for achieving the country’s targets for poverty reduction, food security, and human capital improvement.

One of the reasons for high post-harvest losses reported in Rwanda is limited access to storage, including cold storage.  At the same time, the few available cold storage facilities are not optimally used.  ESMAP is supporting the World Bank Rwanda Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security Project (SAIP) to better understand the landscape of cold chains along the country’s horticulture value chains. ESMAP’s work with SAIP will suggest a roadmap, including policy and investment recommendations and business models, and adapt applicable lessons from international experiences in energy-efficient cold chains along the horticulture and livestock value chains.  The insights from Rwanda, along with other ESMAP-cooling-related work, will be shared more broadly to inform and advance sustainable cold chain solutions in the agriculture sector of other countries.

  1. Mobilization of climate finance.  The Efficient and Clean Cooling program mobilized US$157 million of climate finance from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to develop the World Bank’s Cooling Facility. The facility, approved by the GCF Board in October 2021, is one of the world’s first cooling-focused facilities. It is expected to fund nine projects across the health, agriculture, and space cooling sectors in Bangladesh, El Salvador, Kenya, Malawi, North Macedonia, Panama, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, and Sri Lanka. The Cooling Facility will support climate change adaptation efforts in these countries and is also expected to help them decrease GHG emissions by 16.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide (MtCO2e).
  2. Thought Leadership. The Efficient and Cool Cleaning program activities have led to the creation of several knowledge products which will improve the capacity to design and implement sustainable cooling solutions across sectors.  These knowledge products include a Primer for Space Cooling and a Primer for Cool Cities (also available as an e-learning course).  

The Efficient and Clean Cooling team has engaged with the World Bank’s Health Global Practice to support COVID-19 pandemic response projects in Mongolia, the Philippines, and Tunisia. These projects focus on reliable and climate-friendly cold chains and health facilities. Specific support includes providing advisory services and participating in workshops with government officials and implementation agencies such as UNICEF. The program also delivers detailed guidance and technical knowledge relevant to the countries.

In addition, ESMAP has developed a tool to support the planning of cold chains for vaccines.  The tool is being piloted in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Somalia to help these countries understand the cost, energy, and climate change implications of upgrading cold chains to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Other technical and operationally focused products are under development in collaboration with partners such as Sustainable Energy for All and the International Institute for Refrigeration.

Moving forward

  • The work to support strengthening countries’ health systems with reliable and climate-friendly cold chains and facilities will continue to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and increase the countries’ preparedness for future pandemics or epidemics.   
  • The program plans to devote a significant part of its efforts and resources to supporting the food security and safety agenda and working on the food-energy-climate nexus.
  • One of the program’s core priorities is the work to support the integration of sustainable cooling into the inclusive energy transitions for countries in alignment with their climate change adaptation and mitigation goals.    
  • After securing the GCF approval of climate finance for the multi-country Cooling Facility, the ESMAP Program will continue to support its implementation. It will ensure that the experience and insights are shared to benefit more countries seeking to implement and scale access to efficient and clean cooling solutions.

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