Over 160-200 million Indians could be exposed to lethal heat waves annually: World Bank

Source: The post is based on the article “Over 160-200 million Indians could be exposed to lethal heat waves annually: World Bank” published in The Hindu on 1st December 2022.

What is the News?

The World Bank has released a report titled “Climate Investment Opportunities in India’s Cooling Sector”.

What are the key findings of the report?

Impact of Higher Temperatures on India: By 2030, over 160-200 million people across the country could be exposed to lethal heat waves annually. 

Around 34 million people in India will face job losses due to heat stress-related productivity decline.

Due to this, by 2037, the demand for cooling is likely to be eight times more than current levels. This means there will be a demand for a new air-conditioner every 15 seconds leading to an expected rise of 435% in annual greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades.

Recognizing this challenge, India is already deploying new strategies to help people adapt to rising temperatures. In 2019, India launched the India Cooling Action Plan(ICAP).

The report proposes a roadmap to support ICAP through new investments in three major sectors: Building construction, Cold chains and Refrigerants.

What is the roadmap suggested by the report in these three major sectors?

Building construction: 

Firstly, adopt climate-responsive cooling techniques as a norm in both private and government-funded constructions. This can ensure that those at the bottom of the economic ladder are not disproportionately affected by rising temperatures.

– The report suggests that India’s affordable housing program for the poor, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana(PMAY) can adopt such changes on a scale.

Secondly, enact a policy for district cooling which could lead to the consumption of 20-30% less power than the most efficient conventional cooling solutions. District cooling technologies generate chilled water in a central plant which is then distributed to multiple buildings via underground insulated pipes. This brings down the cost for providing cooling to individual buildings.

Fix Gaps in Cold Chains Network: To minimize rising food and pharmaceutical wastage during transport due to higher temperatures, the report recommends fixing gaps in cold chain distribution networks. Investing in pre-cooling and refrigerated transport can help decrease food loss by about 76% and reduce carbon emissions by 16%.

Refrigerants: India aims to phase out the production and use of ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) which are used as coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators by 2047. 

– The report recommended improvements in servicing, maintenance and disposal of equipment that use HCFCs alongside a shift to alternative options with a lower global warming footprint. 

– This can create 2 million jobs for trained technicians over the next two decades and reduce the demand for refrigerants by around 31%.

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