In an overheating world, emissions from cooling are on the rise.
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 applianceThe Future of Cooling (2018), IEA. 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 yearsAir conditioning use emerges as one of the key drivers of global electricity-demand growth (2018), IEA.
Cooling growth is threatening the 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-centuryThe Future of Cooling (2018), IEA. Increasing cooling demand also has the potential to slow down and increase the cost of the clean energy transitionThe Power of Efficient Cooling (2020), EIU.
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 welfareChilling Prospects: Tracking Sustainable Cooling for All (2022), SEforALL. Heat waves kill 12,000 people every year on average – and, often, many moreEconomic Losses, Poverty and Disasters (2018), CRED and UNDRR. Another 420,000 die after eating food that may be spoiled from the heatFood safety (2022), WHO.
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.
Efficient, climate-friendly solutions exist today
There are several energy-efficient, climate-friendly cooling solutions – both passive and mechanical – available today that can save lives and curb greenhouse gas emissions. These solutions need to be developed further and rolled out at scale to close the cooling access gap and significantly cut the sector’s emissions.