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Cooling is critical infrastructure

UK: In a world beset by rising temperatures, researchers from the University of Birmingham are calling for cooling infrastructure systems to be considered critical infrastructure.

As world leaders gather in Dubai for COP 28, the university’s Centre for Sustainable Cooling has published a report maintaining that cooling is not an optional extra or a lifestyle luxury. It argues that it is a critical service for a well-functioning, well adapted, resilient and healthy society and economy, enabling access to the basic essentials of life, such as food and health, and providing safe environments in which to live, work, learn and play.

More broadly, it argues that cooling underpins modern communications, national and international trade and commerce, and individual as well as state-level economic well-being. Cooling is already central to lifting hundreds of millions out of rural poverty and delivering socio-economic development in line with sustainable development goals. 

It adds that around a billion people would benefit from a reduction in the 12% of global food production lost due to a lack of refrigeration, and while 25% of vaccine doses are wasted globally because of failures within cold-chains, more than 1.5 million people worldwide die from vaccine-preventable diseases.

The 40-page report – The Hot Reality: Living in a +50°C World – outlines the need to formally designate cooling infrastructure systems as critical infrastructure, central to our climate adaptation strategy for a fast-warming world. It describes the benefits this would bring and proposes important next steps that must now be taken towards this goal.

“Cooling’s central role to the economic functioning of society, as well as its impact on energy, demands that it should be a distinct cross-cutting sector within the suite of “economic infrastructure” considered by governments, particularly in the context of future climate change and the impact of higher temperatures,” commented Dr Leyla Sayin, the Centre for Sustainable Cooling’s deputy director.”

Copies of the report are available to read and download here.

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