On the Front Line of the Climate Fight
February 13, 2024

On the Front Line of the Climate Fight

You’re on a rooftop in Jakarta and you’re here to fix the aircon. It’s 2PM, which means temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32℃) and high humidity. For safety, you always wear full-body canvas coveralls with a helmet and heavy boots so you are HOT. The tenant is angry, and the building manager told you to hurry up.

In this situation, it’s hard to imagine that global climate change is much of a priority. That problem feels abstract, far away, and irrelevant to the concerns in front of you. But the future of the planet depends on what you do in the next 30 minutes.

All over the world, technicians typically vent super-polluting refrigerant gas into the atmosphere from the units they’re working on. This exacerbates climate change, and the total impact of refrigerant emissions is about 3 gigatonnes CO2-equivalent per year: more than the whole aviation sector. (Read more about the refrigerant problem here or here.)

Efforts to fix this problem usually zoom out pretty far:

  • The Montreal Protocol, a UN treaty, calls for country-level policies and reporting.
  • Initiatives like the Global Cooling Prize focus on the development of new technologies 
  • Industry players like Honeywell and Chemours work on new, more sustainable refrigerants.

These are great and necessary, and these efforts need to be better resourced. But these approaches leave part of the problem unaddressed.

To mitigate billions of tonnes of emissions over the next 15 years, before the policy changes kick in and the new technology is deployed, we need to focus on the front lines. In the emerging markets where this problem is growing rapidly, HVAC technicians are underappreciated, often with limited formal education and economically disadvantaged. They mostly know about the environmental damages of refrigerants, but a wide range of barriers make it challenging for them to help solve the problem.

Our approach at Recoolit is to empower these technicians with the tools and training they need to adopt sustainable practices, and provide them financial incentives to do the right thing. We engage deeply with the details of their day-to-day life, and help them become part of the solution.

We’ve already built a community of users here in Indonesia, and over the next few months we’ll be sharing a few of their stories to shine a light on the real heroes of the refrigerant revolution. Learn more about our community by following Recoolit on Linkedin, or support these sustainability efforts by purchasing carbon credits.