Press the hot button for cooling needs

In a warming planet, cooling is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity. Intense heatwave conditions in many parts of the country, coupled with growing affluence, are driving up AC sales. AC manufacturers estimate a 25% jump in sales this year. With the recent report from the World Meteorological Organisation warning that Asia is warming faster than the global average, the demand for cooling will only increase with time. We need a cooling-global warming mitigation plan.

Rising mercury can cost the economy dear. Heat stress reduces productivity through increased mortality, health impacts and loss of working hours. By 2050, it will cost as much as 2.8% of global GDP. Today, only 13% of Indian households have ACs. Even at this modest level, cooling accounts for nearly 10% of electricity demand. Increased AC use led to a 21% increase in electricity consumption between 2019 and 2022. Cooling-induced GHG emissions are estimated to account for at least 7% of India’s total emissions by 2037.

The challenge lies in meeting cooling needs without adding to the planetary and economic burden. Cooling is an economic opportunity, estimated to create up to $1.6 tn in investment opportunities. Implementing the India Cooling Action Plan, launched in 2019, must be a priority. It aims to reduce cooling energy requirements by 25-40% by 2037-38 through passive and active measures, such as better construction, using design, building materials, landscaping, greening of habitations and cool roofs. Adopting systems like district cooling – creating a network of buildings cooled through a central unit – can bring cost and energy efficiencies. Tackling rising heat requires changing how we build, plan our towns and cities, and travel.


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