Rwanda’s horrific history of civil war and mass murder may be more familiar to most people than its promising present, but the country has been quietly working towards recovery, and has achieved sufficient political stability to foster remarkable economic growth. However, Rwanda doesn’t intend to build its economy at the cost of sustainability, and the Rwandan Government’s plan for sustainable cooling is among the initiatives that demonstrate this fact.
RecommendationSupporting Global Initiatives for Cleaner Cooling
The equatorial climate means that cooling is essential for keeping food and medicines fresh, and cooling for indoor spaces is essential to basic comfort. It is therefore fitting that Rwanda was instrumental in the passage of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
The amendment, agreed in Rwanda’s capital city and implemented in January 2019, will phase out or reduce the use of greenhouse gases used in cooling systems. According to climate change experts, implementing the Kigali Amendment could reduce global warming by as much as 0.4 C by the end of the century.
A Country with Plans that Translate into Positive Action
In the world of politics, one often hears of grand plans with little or no follow-through, but Rwanda has already demonstrated its commitment to sustainability. It was among the first countries worldwide to ban plastic bags – a move that many more “developed” countries have not yet had the courage to emulate.
Meanwhile, the Rwanda Cooling Initiative is already well underway. Using an assessment of the cooling market, it lays out a national cooling strategy and sets minimum energy efficiency standards. It’s particularly important for Rwanda to assert these standards now as its rapidly-recovering economy grows. Without these measures, stability and relative affluence will lead to a massive increase in greenhouse gases as Rwanda’s electrical grid continues to expand and the demand for electricity (and cooling) soars.
One Step Further than the Kigali Amendment
The Kigali amendment aims to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons in cooling systems by around 80 percent in thirty years. 68 countries have ratified the amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and Rwanda has declared its intention of moving quickly towards meeting the obligations the amendment imposes.
However, Rwandan Minister of Environment, Vincent Biruta, says that Rwanda’s energy efficiency requirements, which also emphasize alternative cooling solutions, will magnify his country’s positive impact and calls on other signatories to follow Rwanda’s example.
From Humanitarian Disaster to Sustainable Growth Leader
2001 and 2014, the economy grew at over 8 percent per year, and although that has slowed, and many of its citizens still live in poverty, it’s nevertheless one of Central Africa’s fastest-growing economies. But fast needn’t mean short-sighted, as Rwanda’s approach to recovery has shown.
Now, the country builds on its reputation for leadership in sustainability with the National Cooling Strategy, which it is undertaking with assistance from the UN’s United for Efficiency (U4E) group. A spokesperson for U4E says that Rwanda is showcasing what it hopes to achieve in other countries and believes that Rwanda’s boldness will be rewarded with many benefits, providing a peer-based example that others will be eager to follow.
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