Forewords by the International Institute of Refrigeration

The International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) is an independent intergovernmental organisation whose mission is to disseminate knowledge on all refrigeration technologies and uses. Key domains include:

–    Food quality and safety from farm to consumer
–    Comfort in homes and commercial buildings
–    Healthcare products and services
–    Low temperature and liquefied gas technologies
–    Energy efficiency
–    Safe use of non-ozone-depleting and low global warming potential refrigerants

The latest item is of course at the top of the agenda at international, regional and national levels, since the Kigali amendment and the beginning of the Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) phase-down. The IIR itself published numerous documents on this key topic and updated in June 2022 its Informatory Note for policy makers on low GWP refrigerants for that purpose, please read it at and read the various papers on policies on that topic in this special issue.

But the issue of energy efficiency is also essential and should be at least at the same level of importance.

According to our estimation, 63% of the refrigeration impact on climate change is due to the electricity consumption and 37% to leakages of refrigerants. In addition, electricity grids are not reliable enough in many countries. We need to reduce the refrigeration indirect impact (including air conditioning, the cold chain, heat pumps, cryogenics) on global warming.

Some articles illustrate this topic in the special issue. The IIR recently published numerous Informatory Notes:

  • Solar cooling (December 2020)
  • Air source heat pumps for space heating and cooling (January 2021)
  • State of the art of new technologies applied for chillers (March 2021)
  • Air to air energy recovery equipment (June 2021)
  • Energy recovery in mechanical ventilation systems (June 2021)
  • High temperature heat pumps for industrial applications (October 2021)
  • Thermal energy storage (January 2022)
  • Passive cooling technologies (April 2022)

Please read at least the summaries for policy makers, available for free on the IIR website.

And of course, do not forget the major issue of the cold chain, which is so necessary for food security and health (nutrition but also vaccines…). Moreover, according to the IIR Informatory Note on the carbon footprint of the cold chain (April 2021), an improved cold chain (same capacity level in developing countries than in developed countries) would allow a reduction of almost 50% in CO2 emissions of the current cold chain due to reduced food losses.

Refrigeration is at the heart of sustainable development. All countries should develop refrigeration strategies in order to mitigate climate change while ensuring food security and health.

Technologies exist. Please read what countries and organisations have written in this document and keep informed: the situation is changing fast.

Didier Coulomb

Didier Coulomb was born on September 30, 1960 in Paris, France. He is a qualified engineer of the Ecole Polytechnique de Paris (1982) and the Ecole Nationale du Génie Rural, des Eaux et des Forêts (1984), and of the Institut des Stratégies Industrielles (1995). After internships, in particular in the Food industry, he worked for the French Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in the North of France and Paris (Departmental Directorate for Agriculture and Forestry, Commissariat Général au Plan, General Department for food questions) in which he was more specifically in charge of technology and innovation (1984-1993). He then worked at the French Research Ministry, in particular as Deputy Director for innovation and technological development (1994-2002). He was then General Secretary of the CIRAD (Centre for General Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development), a French centre of research for developing countries, till 2004. Since, Didier Coulomb is the Director General of the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), an intergovernmental organisation comprising 58 Member countries and many private and corporate members. The International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) is a forum for scientific and technical exchange of information in all refrigeration areas and applications (food, medicine, air conditioning, transport, energy…), employing 12 people, with a worldwide network of 500 experts and dealing with:

  • Conference organisation.
  • Communications for United Nations organs and global conferences on the environment (climate change, ozone depletion) and food.
  • Publications of journals, guides, courses, informatory notes, constitution and management of databases.