SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt – At COP27 today, environmental leaders from India, Egypt, the United Nations, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and others highlighted the increasing challenges facing hundreds of millions of people in heat-stressed countries and solutions that can protect their health and wellbeing from extreme heat, as well as helping meet their needs for climate-friendly cooling.
The environmental leaders held a side event at COP27 seeking to bring attention to building stronger resilience to extreme heat and strategies to accelerate access to cooling, especially in heat stressed, high impact, developing countries like India and Egypt.
“A recent report shows that we are looking at least 2.5 degrees warming by the end of the century. We are already seeing the impact of rising temperature and every fraction of a degree translates into loss of lives and livelihoods around the world,” said Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). “We have a moral and ethical imperative to take the right action. There is a need to find ways to leverage innovative technologies and mechanisms supported by scale and pace that is commensurate with the urgency.
"With cooperation with UNEP and UNIDO, the private sector investors have been onboarded to change the technologies and build capacities. Through this initiative, technical schools have been established to upskill the workforce and creating livelihood opportunities,” said Ayman Refaie, Head of Carbon Credit Department, Ministry of Environment, Egypt.
“As a global community, we are compelled to address the growing threat from extreme heat,” said Manish Bapna, president and CEO of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) which cohosted the event.“ We must protect hundreds of millions of people from avoidable suffering. We also must address the skyrocketing need for cooling in a way that is sustainable—and does not make the climate problem worse. Fortunately, we have solutions to address these linked climate, energy, and health challenges—we just need the will, tenacity and financing to get the job done.”
“Heat is not just an inconvenience but a deadly global health threat. In addition to directly affecting public health, extreme has severe serious negative impacts on agriculture, marine eco-systems, and the economy. All of us are affected by warming and we need to build resilience to this increased level of threat,” said Dipa Bagai, India Country Director, NRDC. “Combined with the challenge of rising heat is the challenge of access to cooling. We have to think of innovative ways of meeting the need for cooling for all.. We must focus on effective community engagement, scientific expertise, robust communication programs to implement programs such as the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) in a cohesive way with speed and scale.”
The event was held at the UN Climate Change Global Innovation Hub at COP27. It brought together leaders including Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNFCCC; Ayman Refaie, Head of Carbon Credit Department, Ministry of Environment, Egypt; Amit Prothi Director General, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI); Seema Paul, Program Director, Sequoia Climate Foundation; Dr Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Head -Climate Change and Health Unit, World Health Organization; Brian Dean, Head; Energy Efficiency and Cooling, Sustainable Energy For ALL; Manish Bapna, president and CEO of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), and Dipa Bagai, NRDC India Country Director.
At the event NRDC released a relevant factsheet, “Addressing Skyrocketing Demand for Cooling in India with Cool Roofs”
Many heat-stressed countries are taking steps to protect people from extreme heat and to provide access to climate-friendly cooling. However, given the enormity of the problem and the ticking clock on the climate challenge, the question now is of ‘speed and scale’.
Extreme heat exposures, already a public health emergency in many countries, continue to worsen with each passing year due to climate change. Delhi experienced five heat waves between March and May this year with record breaking temperatures reaching up to 49.2 degrees Celsius (120.5 F). Past seven years have been the warmest in history. Nearly 88 million people in Egypt are highly vulnerable to developing health problems from climate variability and climate change, especially as a result of higher average temperatures and more frequent and intense heat waves.
Along with heat, billions of people face challenges to access climate-friendly cooling. Staying cool during extreme heat can make the difference between life and death. Of the 2.8 billion people living in the hottest parts of the world in 2018, only about 8% had an air conditioner (AC).
However, AC sales in emerging economies are booming and by 2050 around two-thirds of the world’s households could have AC. The cooling energy needs in Egypt are expected to increase by 39%, while the peak cooling loads are expected to increase by 23% by 2080. Similarly, cooling demand in India is growing at the rate of 15-20% annually, though currently only 18% of the Indian households own a cooling system (AC or cooler) and of these, only 10% have an AC.
Drawing on the strengths of government leadership, efficient interagency coordination, scientific expertise, robust communication programs, effective community engagement, strong action on heat preparedness and access to climate friendly cooling can deliver lifesaving benefits.
Delivering this as quickly as needed will require additional finance and capacity.
Link to the event video: https://youtu.be/zZLgcUVSm6Q
A blog by Vijay Limaye and Prima Madan on the issue is here.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)
With over 50 years of experience, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) combines the power of more than three million members and online supporters with the expertise of over 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy to drive climate and clean energy action, protect nature, and promote healthy people and thriving communities. NRDC works in the United States, China, India, and key geographies to advance environmental solutions. In India, NRDC partners with leading organizations on clean energy, electric mobility, and environmental health. For over 12 years, NRDC has been working with the national, state and city level partnering with local groups and businesses to combined scientific research and policy acumen to produce game-changing results.
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is the nodal agency in the administrative structure of the Central Government for the planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing the implementation of India’s environmental and forestry policies and programmes.
The Ministry also serves as the nodal agency in the country for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and for the follow-up of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The Ministry is also entrusted with issues relating to multilateral bodies such as the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and of regional bodies like Economic and Social Council for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) and South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) on matters pertaining to the environment. https://moef.gov.in/en/about-the-ministry/introduction-8/
United Nations Climate Change Global Innovation Hub
The Global Innovation Hub, launched in November 2021, aims to promote transformative innovations for a low-emission and climate-resilient future. The Hub expands the global innovation space by facilitating solutions that support the climate-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that address core human needs for food, shelter, mobility, and access via alternative value chains aligned with those SDGs. The Innovation Hub complements the current approach to innovation for climate solutions —an approach that has tended to be incremental, sector-based and problem-oriented—with a transformative, need-based and solution-oriented one.
Hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Innovation Hub leverages the convening power and climate leadership of the United Nations with the dynamism of the private sector. The Hub will provide a global cross-disciplinary community of practice with a space— physical and virtual—to share ideas and design climate solutions in a spirit of radical collaboration. https://unfccc.int/topics/un-climate-change-global-innovation-hub