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The first-ever report to quantify chilling and cooling reveals major risks to the global economy and vulnerable populations if investment and greater action are not taken, states Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).

The Chilling Prospects: Providing Sustainable Cooling for All report finds that cooling underpins the ability of millions to escape poverty, to keep children healthy, vaccines stable, food nutritious, and economies productive.

These risks are both a development and climate change issue, as they pose challenges for the health, safety, and productivity of populations across the world – especially countries in Asia and Africa where access gaps are the largest.

Yet this challenge also offers business and entrepreneurs the opportunity of major new consumer markets which want super-efficient, affordable technologies to meet their cooling needs.

“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 United Nations Secretary-General for SEforALL.

“This Chilling Prospects report is a wake-up call. We 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.”

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.

Previous research indicates that by 2050, work hour losses by country due to excessive heat and lack of access to cooling are expected to be more than 2% and a high as 12%.

Chilling report's key findings

Closing these cooling access gaps is essential for economic growth and development for many countries, and especially vulnerable populations. Key findings based on an analysis of 52 vulnerable countries in hot climates include:

  • 470 million people in poor rural areas without access to safe food and medicines
  • 630 million people in hotter, poor urban slums with little or no cooling to protect them against extreme heat waves
  • Nine countries have the biggest populations facing significant cooling access risks, namely: India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, China, Mozambique and Sudan.
  • 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.

Specific report recommendations

Government policymakers should immediately measure gaps in access to cooling in their own countries, as an evidence base for more proactive and integrated policy-making.

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.

Manufacturers, industry associations and lenders should actively engage and cooperate to develop products and financial solutions that meet the needs of those without access to cooling.

All stakeholders should accelerate their innovation efforts and embrace a paradigm shift - thinking more holistically about the way we provide cooling, focusing firstly on reducing heat loads and then about how to deliver cooling affordably and sustainably.

Where to find the report?

Charlotte Pera, the president and CEO of Climate Works Foundation, said: “Universal access to efficient, clean cooling is a huge prize for people and the planet, and can help achieve the SDGs. The launch of ‘Chilling Prospects’ is a big step toward that prize.

“Through the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme, we look forward to supporting this crucial effort in partnership with health communities, businesses, and governments in the developing world. It is only through collaboration—across public, philanthropic, and private sectors—that we will succeed in tackling climate change and creating a prosperous future for all.”

Follow the conversation online using #CoolingforAll.

Read the report in full here.

SEforALL produced the report as part of the Cooling for All initiative, which developed the report along with contributions from the Global Panel on Access to Cooling. The report draws attention to the direct intersection between three internationally agreed goals: the Paris Climate Agreement; the Sustainable Development Goals; and the Montreal Protocol’s Kigali Amendment.

One of the key goals of the Kigali Amendment is to limit consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas used widely in air conditioners and refrigerators.

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