Billions at risk from heat stress at home
This demand is expected to be met mainly by using air conditioning, which is costly and environmentally damaging.
“The implication of this study is that the current SDG for energy (SDG7) understates the extent of energy poverty, when considering that several billion people in the Global South lack affordable cooling technologies and face the risk of heat stress-related health impacts,” Rao points out.
According to Mastrucci, filling this “cooling gap” links with the SDGs on affordable and clean energy, poverty reduction, health and wellbeing, and sustainable cities and communities.
SDG7 calls for providing universal access to modern, affordable and reliable energy by 2030, including both electricity and clean cooking stoves and fuels.The authors note that timely policies to make air conditioning technologies efficient and affordable, and to improve the design of residential areas in order to reduce heat island effects, would benefit both the climate and development.
“We estimate that between 1.8 and 4.1 billion people in the Global South — with a median of 3.7 billion for 26 degrees Celsius set point threshold and at least five days of annual exposure — are potentially exposed to heat stress in their homes,” Narasimha Rao, assistant professor of energy systems, Yale University[NEW DELHI] Some 1.8–4.1 billion people living in the developing countries of South Asia, South-East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are vulnerable to heat-related stress, and lack access to technology to cool their living spaces, according to new estimates “Addressing the lack of access to thermal comfort has important implications for reducing the risk of heat-related deaths and dysfunction and improving the well-being of billions of people in the Global South,” Alessio Mastrucci , an author of the study and researcher at the Vienna-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) , tells SciDev.Net.The authors note that as health risks rise with global temperatures , the need for air conditioning is expected to add to global energy demands.Universal access to electricity and adequate and affordable housing are prerequisites to accessing cooling technologies, and are closely linked to meeting several of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mandated by the UN , the study notes.