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3.4 billion lack access to cooling

USA: A new report estimates that the number of people without access to sustainable cooling has risen to 3.4 billion, due in part to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chilling Prospects: Tracking Sustainable Cooling for All 2021, released today by SEforALL, analyses the urban poor, rural poor, lower-middle income, and middle income populations in 54 high-impact countries and has revealed that global cooling access risks are on the rise. In total, 3.4 billion people lack access to sustainable cooling, it claims, up from 3.2 billion in 2020.

The rise is said to be due, in part, to the first increase in global poverty seen in 20 years, impacting mostly South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 2020 was one of the hottest years on record, with numerous heatwaves recorded causing wildfires that emitted record amounts of CO2.

This latest edition of the report – the fourth in the Chilling Prospects series – has found that 1.09 billion vulnerable people are at high risk because they face a range of cooling access challenges. Covid-19 has intensified the situation, with those forced into poverty due to the pandemic contributing to the 50 million additional urban and rural poor at high risk in 2021. Meanwhile, another 2.3 billion from the lower-middle income group are said to face a different risk – inefficient cooling and refrigeration options that increase harmful levels of greenhouse gases.

Lack of access to adequate cold chains for Covid-19 vaccines is highlighted as one of the most immediate concerns facing developing countries and indeed the world. The Economist Intelligence Unit has forecast that 85 poor countries will not have widespread access to Covid-19 vaccines before 2023, including all African economies except Gabon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa.  

The report can be viewed and downloaded here.

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