Emissions from cooling are expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2100.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned about the intensity of heat waves if the surface temperature does not meet the 1.5 °C mark.
India experienced the warmest March since 1901 and the highest rainfall deficit since 1909.
It is essential for developing countries like India to adapt to affordable, efficient and sustainable cooling to improve health, turn down poverty, make less food loss and manage energy demand.
Turning down the food loss with refrigeration and food cold chains by 50% could help us feed about 1 billion undernourished people.
Dependence on mechanical cooling can be reduced to a great deal if the buildings in residential, commercial and industrial sectors are constructed with cool roofs, increased airflow and better insulation.
Cooling is a disaster for the planet.
Conventional cooling devices such as room air conditioners, refrigerators, industrial scale chillers, etc account for approximately 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
India’s cooling demand is growing at the rate of 15-20% annually but the good news is Asia will be key for the development of sustainable cooling technologies and getting the cooling right.
Where exactly is the problem?
India’s population- 1.2 billion
No. of architects- approximately 32,000
This is the worst ratio in the world if we compare the no. of people served by one architect.
The problem does not end there because out of these small numbers, only a few practices sustainable building design.
1) They are not well prepared to tackle the challenges which come with a carbon-constrained world.
2) They are not rewarded well in terms of expertise and time needed to design high-performance buildings which will adapt to sustainable cooling principles.
The cooling sector is a large source of direct and indirect emissions of potent greenhouse gases.
India’s AC stock is set to grow to 1 billion by 2050 and is expected to contribute approximately 25 percent of global emissions which happens due to room ACs.
A big call for action?
1) Good AC practices- running the ACs at 24 degree or above, regular servicing which will help to maintain 95 percent of the unit’s original efficiency and avoid 50 percent fall in the AC performance, ensuring heat sources in the indoor space are plugged, cleaning the air filters at regular intervals which could yield up to 15 percent energy savings should be followed.
2) Robust recycling ecosystem- 80 percent of discarded electronic appliances end up in municipal landfills and refrigerants are vented into the air. Consumers should dispose of used or dysfunctional ACs only to authorized e-waste recyclers. The Central Pollution Control Board should make strict rules for the proper handling, dismantling, recovery and re-use of the ACs and refrigerants.
3) Affordable financing options should be provided to consumers to encourage them to buy energy-efficient AC. The government can ask the manufacturers to reduce the prices by prioritizing bulk purchases of natural refrigerant-based energy-efficient ACs through green procurement programs and also aid them with incentives.
4) Consumers should be educated enough to help them purchase energy-efficient AC. They should be told about the lifetime savings from reduced energy consumption and enhanced cooling efficiency which comes with a high star-rated or energy-efficient unit. Currently, 71 percent intend to buy but only 14 percent end up buying because of high upfront payment.
The transition to sustainable cooling could boost our economic growth and save our ecosystem.
Are you ready for it?