Asia is home to five of the top nine countries with the biggest populations facing significant cooling-related risks: India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia. This year’s Innovate4climate (I4C) will have a priority focus on how to deliver sustainable cooling to keep people, food and medicines safe.

First, cooling is vital for both health and prosperity

1.1 billion people face risks from lack of access to cooling, the vast majority of them in Asia and Africa. 1.1 billion people face risks from lack of access to cooling, the vast majority of them in Asia and Africa. Higher temperatures and lack of access to cooling will impact labor productivity and the wellbeing of populations: by 2050, work hours lost due to heat may be as high as 12% in the worst affected regions of South Asia and West Africa, or 6% of annual GDP. The lack of adequate cold storage and refrigerated transport contributes to over 1.5 million vaccine preventable deaths each year. And up to 50% of food can be lost post-harvest in developing countries that lack access to refrigeration or food cold chains.

Second, business-as-usual cooling will be a disaster for the planet

Cooling contributes to climate change by increasing demand for electricity, much of which is still generated from fossil fuels, and through leakage of refrigerants, which have a much higher global warming potential than CO2 emission. Conventional cooling devices – such as refrigerators, room air conditioners, industrial scale chillers, and other devices – account for as much as 10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than twice the emissions generated from aviation and maritime combined. Furthermore, if left unchecked, emissions from cooling are expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2100, driven by heat waves, population growth, urbanization, and a growing middle class. Business-as-usual cooling generates a vicious cycle: as the world gets hotter, increased demand for cooling drives up levels of greenhouse gas emissions that, in turn, drive up temperatures and make access to cooling even more critical, all while endangering human safety and livelihoods.

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