Air conditioning for all? Hotter world faces risk of 'cooling poverty'

(Reuters News, 10 Sep 2019) As climate change brings more frequent and extreme heatwaves around the world, demand for air conditioners is soaring, with 10 new units sold every second on average - but the poor may be left to swelter, said a University of Oxford researcher.

By 2050, energy use for cooling is projected to triple, while in hot countries like India, China, Brazil and Indonesia, it is expected to grow five-fold, the World Bank has said.

“By the end of the century, global energy demand for cooling will be more than it is for heating,” said Radhika Khosla, who leads an Oxford Martin School program on future cooling.

But not everyone will be able to afford to beat the heat.

“Traditionally, energy poverty has been defined as people not having heating. Now that is potentially going to shift, and we could have cooling poverty,” Khosla warned on the sidelines of a conference on efforts to slash planet-warming emissions.

Rising heat is having a huge impact on health – deaths and hospital admissions jump in heatwaves – but also on productivity as workers struggle to cope, climate scientists say.

A 2018 report from Sustainable Energy for All, a U.N.-backed organization, said more than 1.1 billion people globally faced immediate risks from lack of access to cooling.

External link

Reuters News, 10 Sep 2019: Air conditioning for all? Hotter world faces risk of 'cooling poverty'