In an overheating world, emissions from cooling are on the rise.

Cooling produces more than 7% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – and these emissions are expected to roughly double by 2050.

We’re stuck in a vicious cycle.

Rising global temperatures are driving increased demand for cooling, which causes more global warming and creates the need for even more cooling. We must break this cycle and transform how we cool.

The cooling challenge at-a-glance

Cooling demand is on the rise

Air conditioners and electric fans currently consume 20% of the electricity used in buildings around the world and their use is expanding more rapidly than any other building appliance. Global energy demand for cooling is expected to triple by 2050. This boom means there will be 10 air conditioners sold every second for the next 30 years.

Global number of air conditioners (million units)

Source: The Future of Cooling, IEA

Cooling growth is threatening the clean energy transition

Cooling is a significant contributor to peak electricity demand, leading to blackouts and high costs for consumers. As a result of growth in demand, cooling is expected to contribute to almost half of some countries’ peak electricity load by mid-century.

Meeting cooling demand with renewable energy is simply not an option, as newly installed solar capacity is failing to outpace the new cooling load added to grids around the world. Unless we quickly get ahead of this growth in demand, the clean energy transition will be too slow and too costly.

Share of cooling in peak electricity load (%)

Source: IEA

Lack of access to cooling is deadly

Globally, more than 1.2 billion people are at high-risk of heat-related threats to their lives and welfare. Heat waves kill 12,000 people every year on average – and, often, many more. Another 420,000 die after eating food that may be spoiled from the heat.

Heat related mortality (annual change)

Source: 2020 Report of the Lancet Countdown

Cooling is an equity issue

The lack of access to cooling makes it more difficult for people to escape poverty, keep healthy, learn, be economically productive, and keep food fresh. Access to cooling is also a racial and social justice issue, with underserved and lower-income communities and countries feeling negative effects the most.