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Beko urges collaborative action on universal access to refrigeration that doesn’t cost the earth

PRNewswire May 22, 2024

–  Up to 4.2 billion domestic refrigerators may be in use by 2050 – more than double today’s number

–  Global cooling experts call for ‘absolute urgency to drive development and deployment of sustainable, affordable and resilient cooling solutions’ to meet climate targets

–  Undertaken by home appliance expert Beko, the report challenges the public and private sectors to innovate together

ISTANBUL, May 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — A new report has highlighted the ‘double bind’ presented by the rapid expansion of access to domestic refrigeration – the need to balance improvements in global living standards with the environmental impact of the additional 2.3 billion domestic refrigerators that may be in use globally by 2050 (+121% versus 2022).

Hakan Bulgurlu

The report, Without Access to Fundamental Services: The Right to Refrigeration, has been undertaken by home appliance leader Beko, and features contributions by world-leading cooling experts Professor Toby Peters and Dr Leyla Sayin from the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Challenge 1: adequate access to cooling

In their contribution to the report, the two experts highlight the many challenges that stand in the way of the universal provision of the essential service of refrigeration.

  • Globally, more than 1.2 billion lack of access to cooling and are consequently categorised as high-risk (~15% of the global population);
  • Lack of effective refrigeration contributes to the loss of 526 million tonnes of food produced annually. This is enough to feed an estimated one billion people – representing its own massive emissions hazard.
  • Improved access to refrigeration is impeded by the fact that 745 million people lack access to electricity and 3.5 billion suffer frequent power cuts.
  • Entrenched poverty and inequality mean many cannot afford a fridge at all, whether on-grid or off.
  • Cutting food waste is essential, given that in 2023 in 333 million people were facing acute food insecurity.

Challenge 2: the associated environmental impact

Rising emissions is the other key concern.

  • Household appliances already account for 8% of global carbon emissions, which is more than three times the global carbon emissions of the aviation[1] industry.
  • Of the total emissions from household appliances, 15% is caused by domestic refrigerators.
  • The cooling sector more broadly already accounts for nearly 20% of global electricity consumption and comprises more than 10% of global emissions.

The global energy consumption by appliances and equipment continues to grow every year. This is driven largely by expanding ownership and use of energy-consuming devices, particularly in developing countries. The report estimates that 2.3 billion people worldwide are reaching income levels where they are likely to purchase inexpensive but inefficient, polluting refrigerators. What will happen to these figures as the number of domestic refrigerators in use shoots up, as predicted? By 2050, 4.2 billion domestic refrigerators are predicted to be in use.

Creating a future in which everyone can access essential services in harmony with the planet

Hakan Bulgurlu, CEO of Beko, says: “It is simply not acceptable to deny those in the Global South access to a comfortable and healthy living due to business-as-usual emissions increases as this population gains access to what many in the Global North have taken for granted for decades. Our question is this: how can more people gain access to essential home appliances, while we ensure efficient energy consumption?”

“We decided to investigate an area of Beko expertise – refrigeration. A fridge at home is linked to a variety of important development and human rights indicators. But more refrigerators mean more energy consumption and emissions, and by extension an increase in the effect of global warming, which is being felt around the world, but acutely in the Global South. Therein lies the conflict that Beko is urging businesses and policymakers to address.”

Distinct issues to be tackled in different parts of the world

The complexities of the problem are playing out in different ways around the world, which are illuminated by examples in this report. For instance, in Pakistan, where a huge rural population struggles with access to a reliable supply of electricity and low to average incomes, a large, fast-growing population will nonetheless likely boost the number of refrigerators, with serious implications for global emissions.

South Africa, too, struggles with an intermittent electricity supply, although a larger proportion of the population has access. The key issues facing South Africa are electricity production practices that depend on coal, and the stark inequality that means despite being an upper middle-income country, its poorest citizens may struggle to buy a quality, energy-efficient refrigerator.

Solutions through genuine collaboration

Solving the refrigeration problem won’t be easy. But there are ways forward. To truly address the problems presented in this report, genuine collaboration between the private and public sectors will be essential, not optional.

The private sector needs to research and develop pioneering energy-efficient, low leakage, and affordable refrigeration solutions; communicate the advantages of energy-efficient products; respect local knowledge and build trust among consumers; lobby for stringent regulation; and contribute to global industry standards.

Policymakers should pursue and enforce international agreements; create National Cooling Action Plans[2]; run public information campaigns; put processes in place to dispose of older or broken fridges in an environmentally friendly way; and, through advocacy and research, make sure the world’s poorest are not excluded from the right to refrigeration.

Key data points summary

  • 333 million people were facing acute food insecurity in 2023, which is more than 200,000 above pre-pandemic levels.
  • The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says that food production must increase by 70% by 2050 to feed a fast-growing global population.
  • A household is likely to buy a fridge once its income reaches 10,000 USD per year (source: the German Agency for International Cooperation, GIZ)
  • 745 million people may still live without access to electricity. By 2030, an estimated 660 million are likely to be left without electricity.
  • The number of people without or with inconsistent access to electricity stands at 3.5 billion.
  • The number of refrigeration appliances in use in 2022 was 1.9 billion, with 165 million units sold. By 2030, there are projected to be 2.5 billion units in use and 209 million units sold annually; and by 2050, 3.8 billion units in use and 256 million units sold annually.
  • More than 1.2 billion rural and urban poor globally are categorised at high risk due to lack of access to cooling.
  • If everyone who needed a refrigerator had one, there would be 4.2 billion domestic refrigerators in 2050. Providing cooling for all who need it by 2050 would require 14 billion active cooling appliances worldwide.
  • The cooling sector consumes more than 17% of the overall electricity used worldwide.

[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/s44168-022-00001-w
[2] A National Cooling Action Plan (NCAP) is a document that outlines a country’s strategy for sustainable cooling. It covers regulatory, policy, technical and operational areas to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the cooling sector. NCAPs are seen as an effective tool to strategize sustainable cooling actions.


Beko has 55,000 employees throughout the world with its global operations through its subsidiaries in 57 countries and 45 production facilities in 13 countries (i.e. Türkiye, UK, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Poland, South Africa, Russia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and China). Beko has 22 brands owned or used with a limited license (Arçelik, Beko, Whirlpool*, Grundig, Hotpoint, Arctic, Ariston*, Leisure, Indesit, Blomberg, Defy, Dawlance, Hitachi*, Voltas Beko, Singer*, ElektraBregenz, Flavel, Bauknecht, Privileg, Altus, Ignis, Polar). Beko became the largest white goods company in Europe with its market share (based on volumes) and reached a consolidated turnover of 8 billion Euros in 2023. Beko’s 31 R&D and Design Centers & Offices across the globe are home to over 2,300 researchers and hold more than 3,500 international registered patent applications to date. For the 5th consecutive year, the highest score in the DHP Household Durables industry (based on the results dated 27 October 2023) in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index of the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment was achieved.** Beko’s vision is ‘Respecting the World, Respected Worldwide.’ 


*Licensee limited to certain jurisdictions.
**The data presented belongs to Arçelik A.Ş., a parent company of Beko.

Right to Refrigeration Infographi





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