Planning, education, and data insights will help tackle the
deadly effects of global heating, Ashden’s search for the world’s best sustainable
cooling solutions has shown.
Four leading innovators have been longlisted for the
Ashden Cool Cities Award, funded by the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme
(K-CEP). Their work is preparing communities around the world for the effects
of rising heat. The winner of the prize will be announced in June.
But despite these outstanding efforts the world is not ready
for the reality of a hotter planet, Ashden’s experts have warned. The last five
years were the warmest on record, but carbon emissions continue to grow –
rising by 0.6% from 2018 to 2019.
Ashden CEO Harriet Lamb said: “The climate emergency means
higher temperatures are now a fact of life – and then people whack up the air
conditioning, completing a vicious circle. The world must wake up to this new
reality and urgently invest in sustainable solutions such as those applying for
an Ashden award. We cannot sit back and
wait for the next lethal heatwave to arrive – we need action now.”
Air conditioning is becoming more popular around the world –
but it remains unaffordable for billions of people, and the energy it uses is a
significant driver of global heating. Air conditioning also generates extremely
damaging greenhouse gases. Left unchecked, emissions from air conditioning
could account for nearly 20 percent of climate pollution by 2050. This award,
first launched in 2019, seeks to put the spotlight on cooling as an
under-appreciated issue. Last year the Colombian city of Medellin won for an innovative project using
planting to reduce temperatures.
Alternatives are revealed in the work of four very different
longlisted organisations in Vietnam, India and Egypt. They include using
climate data to trigger early funding for heatwave responses and training the
next generation of architects in sustainable cooling techniques.
Harriet Lamb said: “Higher temperatures will not affect
everyone equally – people living in poverty and those who work outdoors are
among those most at risk, despite generally living lower-carbon lives. So
sustainable cooling for all is a vital part of a fair transition to a
low-carbon world. The four longlisted organisations this year are all very
different puzzle pieces of the wider cooling picture – making our judges’ job
Dan Hamza-Goodacre, Executive Director of K-CEP, said:
“Progress in reducing carbon emissions needs rapidly scaling up if humanity is
to avert the worst impacts of climate change. Emissions from cooling would
alone blow the global carbon budget for 1.5 degrees. So I’m heartened to see
Ashden identify these promising solutions that can make efficient,
climate-friendly cooling more accessible for people across the world,
especially those most vulnerable from the impacts of high and rising
Ashden Cool Cities Award Longlist
The German Red Cross and Vietnam Red Cross, Vietnam
A joint German Red Cross and Vietnam Red Cross project uses
weather forecast data to trigger pre-arranged funding and action to help people
cope with upcoming heatwaves, before the emergency takes place. This allows for
a better response, delivered through crisis centres supporting slum residents
and outdoor workers.
India’s building sector is booming. The Fairconditioning
project by cBalance Solutions works to ensure the country’s university
architecture courses promote cutting-edge sustainable design and cooling
methods – challenging what they call ‘air-conditioning-as-default’ thinking.
Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan, India
The Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan includes a comprehensive
range of measures to keep city residents safe. The plan helps the city map
high-risk areas, reach vulnerable people with warnings and advice, distribute
water and co-ordinate healthcare.
Agricultural workers face a huge threat from
higher temperatures. Egyptian architecture firm ECOnsult have created a green
village in the desert for farm labourers, using heat-absorbing materials and
cooling techniques such as heat-reflecting roofs to keep workers safe.