Turns out that air conditioning use, especially in the U.S., actually poses a risk to our environment, and is causing a lot of backlash from our European allies.
Climate negotiators in Vienna pointed out that air conditioning use is more than just a cultural difference between the U.S. and developing countries. With much skepticism and anger, they asked John Kerry if he could explain why Americans are so reliant on air conditioning.
Researcher Stan Cox explains why to The Denver Post. He says,
“If the second, fourth, and fifth most populous nations — India, Indonesia, and Brazil, all hot and humid — were to use as much energy per capita for air conditioning as does the U.S., it would require 100 percent of those countries’ electricity supplies, plus all of the electricity generated by Mexico, the United Kingdom, Italy, and the entire continent of Africa.”
In addition, visitors to the U.S. are often surprised at how much Americans love their air conditioning. Considering that the average American home spends about 2.7% of their income on energy bills, amounting to $2,000 per year, some visitors are having problems fathoming why.
The bad news is that the use of air conditioners and refrigerators has increased energy consumption nationwide. It has also increased the emissions of HCFC gasses into the ozone, which are known to promote climate change.
Kerry’s mission in Vienna was to help foster an international agreement to limit the use of these energy-sapping appliances worldwide. He made it clear it was a serious matter, and that the actions of one person can save the lives of many.
Plus, if changes are not made, developing nations worldwide will be the first to be affected.
Kerry explains that if the world does not start limiting its use of HCFC gases, China and India will become large markets for air conditioners, which will cause the problem to balloon and explode.
While no official agreement was made, it is no secret that Europeans believe the U.S. should do more to limit their reliance on air conditioning.
And they are not wrong, take the example of the state of Colorado. In 2009, Colorado households consumed an average of 103 million BTUs a year, which was a whopping 15% over the national average.