Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Oh no – poor people are getting richer, obtaining more access to modern conveniences.
Fast-Rising Demand for Air Conditioning Is Adding to Global Warming. The Numbers Are Striking.
With window units set to more than triple by 2050, home air conditioning is on pace to add half a degree Celsius to global warming this century, a new report says.
BY PHIL MCKENNA
NOV 12, 2018
Increasing demand for home air conditioning driven by global warming, population growth and rising incomes in developing countries could increase the planet’s temperatures an additional half a degree Celsius by the end of the century, according to a new report by the Rocky Mountain Institute.
The problem with air-conditioning comes from two sources: the amount of energy used, much of which is still powered by carbon-emitting coal, oil and gas generation, and the leaking of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) coolants, which are short-lived climate pollutants many times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Air conditioning, and homes themselves, will also have to become more energy efficient. To ramp up efforts to bring down emissions from cooling, RMI joined the government of India, British entrepreneur Richard Bransonand other organizations on Monday in launching the Global Cooling Prize, an effort to spur development of highly efficient cooling technology to reduce further warming from the residential air conditioning sector.
Growth in the demand for air conditioning is already outpacing growth in solar power, with new residential air conditioning units worldwide consuming approximately 100 GW of energy in 2017, compared to 94 GW of new solar energy generation.
“You can’t build enough renewable energy fast enough to keep pace with the growth of air conditioning,” said Iain Campbell, a senior fellow with RMI and lead author of the report.
The RMI report also describes other measures to shift to less polluting cooling, including improving energy efficiency in homes and buildings and providing financing, subsidies, and other financial incentives to reduce upfront costs for consumers.
The RMI Report is available here. The report suggests that “… increasing populations and urbanization, and rising temperatures exacerbated by expanding urban heat-islands,1 cooling is, in many parts of the world, no longer a luxury, but an urgent priority for health and well-being, productivity, and in extreme cases, survival. …
If only there was a scalable, low carbon energy source which could produce the vast amounts of reliable electricity required to satisfy the world’s growing power demands.