A new study reveals that more than a billion people are at risk from a lack of air conditioning and refrigeration, reports Reuters.
According to data released by the nonprofit group Sustainable Energy for All, 1.1 billion people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, primarily living in rural areas or slums, are threatened by a lack of air conditioning to keep bodies cool and refrigeration to preserve food and medicine.
But the twist is that an increase in electricity required for fridges, fans, and other appliances will only further contribute to man-made climate change in the coming years, the report said.
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"Cooling becomes more and more important" with climate change, Rachel Kyte, head of the group and special representative for the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, told Reuters. "We have to provide cooling in a super-efficient way."
Kyte stated in her interview that companies must focus on converting power generators from fossil fuels to cleaner energy, and developing low-cost, high-efficiency air conditioners to sell to growing middle classes in tropical countries.
“Access to cooling is not a luxury. Access to cooling is now a fundamental issue of equity.” @rkyte365 discussing new ‘Chilling Prospects’ report launch to provide #CoolingforAll. Watch live on @UN Web TV now: https://t.co/90LqsX4mCtpic.twitter.com/64Y7kLDgNz— SEforALL (@SEforALLorg) July 16, 2018
Those living in remote regions of tropical countries often lack electricity, and health clinics there are challenged in storing vaccines or medicines that require refrigeration, the study noted. Likewise, in city slums, residents experience an irregular electricity supply.
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The lack of consistent energy, cooling, and refrigeration all contribute to elevated health risks.
Approximately 38,000 extra deaths are projected to occur each year worldwide between 2030 and 2050, due to heat stress linked to climate change, according to the World Health Organization.
To wit, during a severe heat wave in May, more than 60 people died in Karachi, Pakistan, according to the report.
The report determined that of 52 countries surveyed, those most at risk include India, China, Mozambique, Sudan, Nigeria, Brazil, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh.