India is among the nine most populous countries where people are at risk from lack of access to cooling as global warming continues to threaten health and climate, according to a study of a UN-led initiative.
India is among the nine most populous countries where people are at risk from lack of access to cooling as global warming continues to threaten health and climate, according to a study of a UN-led initiative. The report also said that policy makers should immediately measure gaps in access to cooling in their respective countries, as an evidence base for more proactive and integrated policy-making.
Besides, businesses, governments and finance actors should collaborate to assess and act on the enormous commercial and economic opportunities, including productivity, employment and growth gains from providing sustainable cooling solutions for all, stated the report released by the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) here yesterday. The study, ‘Chilling Prospects: Providing Sustainable Cooling for All’, is the first ever report to quantify the growing risks and assess the opportunities of the global cooling challenge.
The report said there are over 1.1 billion people globally who face immediate risks from lack of access to cooling. “Cooling underpins the ability of millions to escape poverty, to keep our children healthy, vaccines stable, food nutritious, and our economies productive. Access to cooling is now a fundamental issue of equity, and as temperatures hit record levels, this could also mean the difference between life or death for some,” it said.
The report is based on an analysis of 52 vulnerable countries in hot climates. Among the 1.1 billion people face cooling access risks are 470 million people in poor rural areas without access to safe food and medicines and 630 million people in hotter, poor urban slums with little or no cooling to protect them against extreme heatwaves.
Nine countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, which have the biggest population, are facing significant cooling risks, the study said. The countries are India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, China, Mozambique and Sudan. “In a world facing continuously rising temperatures, access to cooling is not a luxury – it’s essential for everyday life. It guarantees safe cold supply chains for fresh produce, safe storage of life-saving vaccines, and safe work and housing conditions,” said Rachel Kyte, CEO and Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All.
About 2.3 billion people represent a different kind of cooling risk – a growing middle class, where limited purchasing options mean they may only be able to afford to buy less expensive and less efficient cooling devices, which could spike global energy demand with profound climate impacts, the study said. The report also added that this challenge offers business and entrepreneurs the opportunity of major new consumer markets which want super-efficient, affordable technologies to meet their cooling needs.
Kyte said the report is a wake-up call and nations must meet these needs in an energy efficient way, and without using ozone damaging substances. “If not, the risks to life, health and the planet are significant. But there are equally important business opportunities for those that face up to the challenge and act early,” she said. It is also estimated that cooling is now responsible for about 10% of global warming and growing rapidly. Future choices about refrigerants, the efficiency of cooling technologies, and how cooling is powered will have a significant impact on achieving the Paris Climate Agreement, it said.
Speaking at the SEforALL side event here yesterday, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed remarked that access to cleaner energy benefits health, especially those of women and girls, by reducing risks from indoor and outdoor air pollution, and by enabling access to clean water and refrigeration. She said while rapid progress is being seen in the power sector in renewable energy, progress is lagging in transportation, industry and heating.
“Energy access is a similar story. Globally, some 1 billion people still lack access to electricity. The numbers on access to clean cooking are even more sobering,” she said, adding that in sub-Saharan Africa alone, 860 million people lack access to clean cooking fuels and technologies. “That’s 275 million more people than in 2010. The consequences are devastating,” she said. The UN official further said that some four million people die every year because of indoor air pollution. “And it bears repeating that the hardest hit are women and girls in rural areas living without modern energy services,” she said.
SEforALL, launched in 2011, aims at achieving universal energy access, improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy. The report, produced in partnership with the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP), was launched during this week’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum, which is reviewing the progress of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.