Full Title: Sustainable, Affordable Cooling Can Save Tens of Thousands of Lives Each Year
Author(s): Chiara Delmastro and Robert Dubrow
Publisher(s): International Energy Agency
Publication Date: March 20, 2023
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Energy demand for space cooling has increased more than twice as fast as the overall energy demand in buildings over the last decade. Higher temperatures caused by climate change, coupled with increasing incomes and growing populations, are driving rapid growth in residential air conditioning (AC) ownership.
Access to effective cooling has saved tens of thousands of lives; over the same period, the average annual number of heat-related deaths averted by AC increased 3-fold, reaching an estimated 190 000 lives saved per year during 2019-2021. However, the rapid growth of AC is putting stress on the power grid, whilst exacerbating the adverse impact of space cooling on GHG emissions, local air pollution, power outages, urban heat island effects, energy poverty, and physiological acclimatisation. This analysis examines available technical and policy response measures that are a win-win: they can ensure that lower income households are not left behind, and that growth in space cooling does not cause harm to the climate and health.