FRANCE, Paris. The IIR has just published a new Informatory Note on the carbon footprint of the cold chain. This Note follows a previous Informatory Note on the role of refrigeration in worldwide nutrition published in March 2020.
According to IIR estimates, 12% of food produced globally in 2017 was lost due to an insufficient cold chain. A more extensive cold chain would limit the need to increase agricultural production to compensate for these losses and avoid the corresponding CO2 emissions. This raises the question of whether the additional CO2 emissions resulting from the implementation of a more extensive cold chain are not greater than the emissions avoided by reducing food losses due to a lack of refrigeration.
The International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) is an independent intergovernmental science and technology-based organisation promoting refrigeration knowledge and associated technologies that improve quality of life in a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable manner including food quality and safety from farm to consumer, comfort in homes and commercial buildings, health products and services, l ow temperature technology and liquefied gas technology, energy efficiency and use of non-ozone depleting and low global warming refrigerants in a safe manner.
To answer this key question, the IIR has developed an innovative model to calculate CO2 emissions for each stage of the cold chain and for all countries in the world. This model allows to compare the CO2 emissions associated with the current global cold chain with those of an "improved" cold chain. The latter corresponds to a reasonable assumption in which the cold chain in all countries is brought to the same level of equipment and performance as that existing in developed countries. The following results are obtained:
A summary for policymakers outlines the main conclusions and recommendations of this new Informatory Note and a methodological annex details the assumptions and main calculations made.