Nav: Home

Addressing cooling needs and energy poverty targets in the Global South

February 07, 2019

Exposure to health risks due to extreme temperatures have been growing worldwide and a significant number of heat-related deaths are reported annually during the summer months in both the northern and southern hemispheres, particularly among the elderly, the poor, and in densely populated cities. Due to its high cost, air conditioning is considered a luxury, and only 8% of the 2.8 billion people living in the world's hottest regions possess an air conditioning unit. In addition, more than one billion people lack access to electricity and at least one billion live in slum conditions, both of which make access to space cooling challenging. The lack of access to essential indoor cooling is a major equity issue and is increasingly seen as a dimension of energy poverty and wellbeing that demands attention from policymakers.

While a number of previous studies have looked at increases in energy demand due to the increased use of air conditioning, there is a dearth of research around where the combination of adverse climate conditions and poverty coincide. In this study, IIASA researchers for the first time estimated spatially explicit residential cooling needs in the Global South in combination with access to space cooling technologies to highlight the location of populations potentially exposed to heat stress. The results revealed large gaps in access to essential space cooling, especially in India, South-East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa and provide a first estimation of the energy required to fill this gap.

According to the researchers, the energy poverty gap is much larger than indicated by the electricity access indicator of the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 when the need for essential space cooling is taken into account. The results indicate that covering this gap would require an energy demand growth of on average 14% of current global residential electricity consumption, primarily for air-conditioning, which would likely be accompanied by high costs and significant environmental implications. Achieving universal access to electricity (SDG7) and adequate and affordable housing (SDG 11) are prerequisites to accessing cooling technologies, making the provision of essential space cooling for all a challenge.

Apart from possible solutions such as the improved efficiency of indoor cooling technologies, the researchers encourage the use of passive building and city design strategies. Passive building design entails using building methods and materials that improve the energy efficiency of buildings and reduce their ecological footprint, thus reducing the amount of energy needed for space heating or cooling.

"Affordable and efficient cooling technologies, passive buildings and improved city design, and the frugal use of air-conditioning should be promoted to ensure essential cooling for all with minimized environmental damage," says Alessio Mastrucci, a researcher with the IIASA Energy Program and lead author of the study.

The findings of this study are important in terms of supporting policy and strategies to reduce the number of people exposed to heat-related stress. According to Mastrucci, addressing the space cooling gaps is likely to have major implications for reducing the risk of heat-related deaths and dysfunction and improving the wellbeing of billions of people in the Global South.

"Filling the cooling energy poverty gap requires integrated strategies beyond providing access to affordable, efficient and low-emitting air-conditioning under the Kigali amendment. Access to electricity and affordable, energy-efficient homes is of critical importance in this respect," he explains.

In addition to the above, the study also highlights important interconnections and potential synergies between filling the cooling gaps and reaching other SDGs, such as no poverty, good health and wellbeing, and sustainable cities and communities. Timely policies to make more efficient air conditioning technologies affordable and to improve the design of residential areas to reduce heat island effects could be a win-win for both the climate and development.
-end-
Contacts:

Alessio Mastrucci
Research Scholar
Energy
Tel: +43 2236 807 368
mastrucc@iiasa.ac.at

Ansa Heyl
IIASA Press Office
Tel: +43 2236 807 574
Mob: +43 676 83 807 574
heyl@iiasa.ac.at

About IIASA:

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policymakers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by prestigious research funding agencies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. http://www.iiasa.ac.at

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Related Poverty Articles:

Cities provide paths from poverty to sustainability
Understanding how cities develop at the neighborhood level is key to promoting equitable, sustainable urbanization.
Growing isolation of poor helps explain changes in concentrated poverty
Concentrated poverty -- neighborhoods where 40 percent of the population or more lives below the federal poverty level -- is back on the rise for all races in the United States, according to Penn State demographers.
Mobile phone and satellite data to map poverty
An international team has, for the first time, developed a way of combining anonymised data from mobile phones and satellite imagery data to create high resolution maps to measure poverty.
Childhood poverty can rob adults of psychological health
A large and growing body of research shows that poor kids grow up to have a host of physical problems as adults.
Out in the rural: A Mississippi health center and its war on poverty
Historian and Author Thomas J. Ward Jr. will be joined by Dr.
Predicting poverty by satellite with detailed accuracy
By combining satellite data and sophisticated machine learning, researchers have developed a technique to estimate household consumption and income.
Can energy access end poverty?
On June 15, 2016, an interactive debate,
Poverty marks a gene, predicting depression
A long line of research links poverty and depression. Now a study by Duke University scientists unveils some of the biology of depression in high-risk adolescents whose families are socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Researchers find a fast road out of poverty
Researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Toronto measured how households who owned property in the upgraded roads were also allowed to spend more on credit so they could buy items for the home or cars that made them better off.
Nearly half of American children living near poverty line
Nearly half of children in the US live dangerously close to the poverty line, according to new research from the National Center for Children in Poverty.

Related Poverty Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...