Extreme heat is pushing India to the brink of ‘surviability’. Obvious solutions are a big part of the problem

Extreme heat is pushing India to the brink of ‘surviability’. Obvious solutions are a big part of the problem

When scorching extreme heat hit India’s capital this summer, Ramesh felt helpless but had no choice but to continue working under the scorching sun to feed his family.

Extreme heat is pushing India to the brink of ‘viability’. Obvious solutions are also a big part of the problem He

When India’s capital was hit by a heat wave this summer, Ramesh felt weak, but he had to deal with the scorching sun to care for his family. He said he had no choice but to continue working for him.

Ramesh has been in the news recently with his parents, three brothers, sister-in-law and her three children. I live in a crowded suburb of west Delhi. Because mercury content regularly reaches dangerous levels.

And when temperatures exceeded her 40s (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in June of this year, schools were closed, crops were damaged, energy supplies were strained, and the heat also made families sick. became.

Ramesh, who goes by the name Ramesh, says he borrowed $35, almost half of his monthly salary, from a relative to buy a used air conditioner for his home. He makes noise and sometimes releases dust,” he said. But he can’t do without it.

Climate experts say that by 2050, India will be the first region to experience sub-sustainable temperatures. Also, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), domestic air conditioner (AC) demand within this period is also expected to increase nine times, outstripping demand for all other home appliances. Masu.

Ramesh’s predicament goes to the heart of the paradox facing the world’s most populous country, with 1.4 billion people. The hotter and richer India gets, the more Indians use air conditioning. And the more AC is used, the hotter the country becomes.According to the European Union, India emits about 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, accounting for about 7% of global emissions. By comparison, the US emits 13% of India’s CO2 emissions despite being home to a quarter of India’s population.

This raises questions of justice that climate scientists have often asked. Should people in developing countries bear the cost of reducing emissions, even if they are among the least responsible for increasing greenhouse gas emissions?

At the recently concluded COP28 climate talks in Dubai, India was not among the countries that signed a pledge to reduce emissions from cooling systems. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at the summit’s opening session, said all developing countries must be given a “fair share of the global carbon budget”.

But India, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, is on the front lines of the climate crisis. And it’s in a difficult position. How can we balance development while ensuring environmental protection?

Rising Heat
The majority of Indians continue to rely on air conditioning for their physical and mental health. And the more tropical southern regions of the country remain hot all year round.Over the past five decades, the country has experienced more than 700 heat wave events claiming more than 17,000 lives, according to a 2021 study of extreme weather in the Weather and Climate Extremes journal. This June alone, temperatures in some parts of the country soared to 47 degrees Celsius (116 Fahrenheit), killing at least 44 people and sickening hundreds with heat-related illnesses.

And by 2030, India may account for 34 million of a projected 80 million global job losses from heat stress, according to a World Bank report in December 2022.This puts millions of people at risk in a country where more than 50% of the workforce is employed in agriculture. And as incomes steadily rise, all while urban populations explode, AC ownership has grown at a remarkable rate.

India’s dilemma

India is still grappling with widespread poverty, while spending billions to upgrade its transport and urban infrastructure, as it faces longstanding challenges to improve living standards.And limiting cooling-related emissions might be seen as a possible barrier to the country’s economic growth, experts say.

During the recent COP summit, 63 countries – including the US, Kenya and Canada – signed a pledge to cut their emissions from cooling systems by 68%, along with several other targets, by 2050. India was not among the group.

Despite this, Brian Dean, head of energy efficiency and cooling at Sustainable Energy for All, which helped to develop the agreement, said India has shown “important international leadership on cooling.”

While it has not joined the Global Cooling Pledge yet, important progress on sustainable cooling has been made domestically and international partners hope that India considers joining in the future,” he said.Under the United Nations’ 2016 Kigali Amendment, many countries including India are phasing out HFCs and replacing them with more climate friendly options, such as hydrofluoroolefins, or HFOs.

Similar moves have worked in the past. The Kigali Amendment is an update to the Montreal Protocol that helped to phase out ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, in the 1980s.

Still, countries that lack access to adequate cooling need help to meet the cost of energy improvement, according to Radhika Khosla, associate professor at Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and Environment.

“Cooling is now on the global agenda,” she said. “But the hard work must begin to ensure everyone can stay cool without further heating the planet.”

Planting trees to absorb sunlight, water bodies, courtyards that promote cooling and clever ventilation are among the more sustainable “passive cooling strategies” suggested by Khosla.

Installing ceiling fans in buildings can reduce household energy consumption for cooling by more than 20%, she added.

“If successful, passive cooling measures could curb the demand for cooling by 24% by 2050, saving $3 trillion and negating greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide,” she said.

Cooling plan

ndia has also promised to reduce its power demand for cooling purposes by 20-25% by 2038 under its own cooling action plan announced in 2019, while still focusing on developing and implementing cost-effective solutions that align with its economic goals.

Dean calls it “one of the first comprehensive national Cooling Action Plans to be developed globally.”

It was, he said, “an important moment for emphasizing the need to proactively and urgently address cooling demand growth, including in agriculture where sustainable cold chains can prevent food loss and improve nutritional outcomes.”

Renewable energy is also growing faster in India than in any other major economy, and data shows it’s on track to meet its emission reduction targets, according to Leena Nandan, India’s secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

India remains active in finding solutions to climate change despite not being a major contributor to the crisis, she told reporters during the COP28 summit.

“We have further increased our climate ambition,” she said.

However, India’s air conditioner boom was seen in almost all urban areas of the country.

Hundreds of construction sites dot the capital, where workers toil to build glittering skyscrapers to house New Delhi’s burgeoning middle class.

Businessman Penta Anil Kumar, who lives in south Delhi’s busy Lajpat Nagar district, is aware of the harmful exhaust fumes from air conditioners and consciously purchases energy-efficient models to meet his cooling needs. He said he did.

“We know that using air conditioning leads to higher temperatures, but we also know that there’s not much else we can do,” he said.

But Kumar is one of the lucky ones who can afford the more expensive AC model.
Mr. Ghashiram, a 65-year-old laborer living in Delhi’s Rohini area, paid his $36 to a contractor to buy a used air conditioner for his family. But that’s more than he earns in a month.
A man who goes by the name
Gashiram said he was unaware that exhaust gases from air conditioning systems were partly responsible for rising temperatures. But he suffers the consequences.

“The heat is getting worse every year,” he said. “I get nervous when I have to go to work in the heat. I’d rather not go out.”

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Content editor at MetBeat Weather. She graduated in English from Calicut University, and holds a Diploma in Electronics and Communication from Thiruvananthapuram Press Club and master of communication and journalism (MCJ) from Bharatiyar University with four years of experience in print and online media.

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