Cooling for sustainable development

Abstract

The unprecedented rise in cooling demand globally is a critical blind spot in sustainability debates. We examine cooling as a system comprised of active and passive measures, with key social and technical components, and explain its link to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We propose an analytical and solution-oriented framework to identify and shape interventions towards sustainable cooling. The framework comprehends demand drivers; cradle-to-cradle stages; and system change levers. By intersecting cooling stages and levers, we discuss four specific, exemplary interventions to deliver sustainable cooling. We propose an agenda for research and practice to transition towards sustainable cooling for all.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Articles found containing SDG and cooling in their topics.
Fig. 2: Analytical framework for transitioning towards sustainable cooling.

References

  1. 1.

    Cooper, G. Air-Conditioning America: Engineers and the Controlled Environment, 1900-1960 (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1998).

  2. 2.

    Ackermann, M. Cool Comfort: America’s Romance with Air-Conditioning (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002).

  3. 3.

    Cox, S. Losing our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths about our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to get Through the Summer) (New Press, 2012).

  4. 4.

    Berger, M. W. Cool comfort: America’s romance with air-conditioning (review). Technol. Cult. 45, 452–454 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Davis, L. W. & Gertler, P. J. Contribution of air conditioning adoption to future energy use under global warming. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 112, 5962–5967 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Heatwaves and Health: Guidance on Warning-System Development (World Meteorlogical Organization and World Health Organization, 2015).

  7. 7.

    Mastrucci, A., Byers, E., Pachauri, S. & Rao, N. D. Improving the SDG energy poverty targets: residential cooling needs in the Global South. Energy Build. 186, 405–415 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    The Future of Cooling - Opportunities for Energy Efficient Air Conditioning (International Energy Agency, 2018); https://www.iea.org/reports/the-future-of-cooling

  9. 9.

    Peters, T. A Cool World - Defining the Energy Conundrum of Cooling for All (Univ. of Birmingham, 2018).

  10. 10.

    Fuso Nerini, F. et al. Mapping synergies and trade-offs between energy and the Sustainable Development Goals. Nat. Energy 3, 10–15 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Fuso Nerini, F. et al. Connecting climate action with other Sustainable Development Goals. Nat. Sustain. 2, 674–680 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Thacker, S. et al. Infrastructure for sustainable development. Nat. Sustain. 2, 324–331 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Research Projects (International Institute of Refrigeration, 2018); https://iifiir.org/en/european-and-international-projects

  14. 14.

    Global Cooling Prize (Rocky Mountain Institute, 2018); https://globalcoolingprize.org/

  15. 15.

    She, X. et al. Energy-efficient and -economic technologies for air conditioning with vapor compression refrigeration: a comprehensive review. Appl. Energy 232, 157–186 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Stephenson, J. et al. Energy cultures: a framework for understanding energy behaviours. Energy Policy 38, 6120–6129 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Wilhelmi, O. V. & Hayden, M. H. Connecting people and place: a new framework for reducing urban vulnerability to extreme heat. Environ. Res. Lett. 5, 14021 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Lunt, M. F. et al. Reconciling reported and unreported HFC emissions with atmospheric observations. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 112, 5927–5931 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Myhre, G. et al. in Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (eds Stocker, T. F. et al.) Ch. 8 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).

  20. 20.

    Ürge-Vorsatz, D., Cabeza, L. F., Serrano, S., Barreneche, C. & Petrichenko, K. Heating and cooling energy trends and drivers in buildings. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 41, 85–98 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Waite, M. et al. Global trends in urban electricity demands for cooling and heating. Energy 127, 786–802 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Geels, F. W. From sectoral systems of innovation to socio-technical systems: insights about dynamics and change from sociology and institutional theory. Res. Policy 33, 897–920 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Costanza, R. & Daly, H. E. Natural capital and sustainable development. Conserv. Biol. 6, 37–46 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Elmqvist, T. et al. Sustainability and resilience for transformation in the urban century. Nat. Sustain. 2, 267–273 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Sachs, J. D. et al. Six transformations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Nat. Sustain. 2, 805–814 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Seto, K. C. et al. Carbon lock-in: types, causes, and policy implications. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 41, 425–452 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Park, R. J., Goodman, J., Hurwitz, M. & Smith, J. Heat and learning. Am. Econ. J. Econ. Policy 12, 306–339 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Barreca, A., Clay, K., Deschenes, O., Greenstone, M. & Shapiro, J. S. Adapting to climate change: the remarkable decline in the US temperature-mortality relationship over the twentieth century. J. Polit. Econ. 124, 105–159 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Markard, J., Raven, R. & Truffer, B. Sustainability transitions: an emerging field of research and its prospects. Res. Policy 41, 955–967 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Cherp, A., Vinichenko, V., Jewell, J., Brutschin, E. & Sovacool, B. Integrating techno-economic, socio-technical and political perspectives on national energy transitions: a meta-theoretical framework. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 37, 175–190 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Loorbach, D. Transition management for sustainable development: a prescriptive, complexity‐based governance framework. Governance 23, 161–183 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Hekkert, M. P., Suurs, R. A. A., Negro, S. O., Kuhlmann, S. & Smits, R. E. H. M. Functions of innovation systems: a new approach for analysing technological change. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Change 74, 413–432 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Farmer, J. D. et al. Sensitive intervention points in the post-carbon transition. Science 364, 132–134 (2019).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Newell, R. G., Jaffe, A. B. & Stavins, R. N. The Induced Innovation Hypothesis and Energy-Saving Technological Change NBER Working Paper No. 6437 (National Bureau of Economic Research, 1998); https://doi.org/10.3386/w6437

  35. 35.

    Biddle, J. Explaining the spread of residential air conditioning, 1955-1980. Explor. Econ. Hist. 45, 402–423 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Creutzig, F. et al. Towards demand-side solutions for mitigating climate change. Nat. Clim. Change 8, 260–263 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Foss, N. J. & Saebi, T. Fifteen years of research on business model innovation. J. Manage. 43, 200–227 (2017).

    Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    De Vecchi, R., Cândido, C. & Lamberts, R. Thermal history and its influence on occupants’ thermal acceptability and cooling preferences in warm-humid climates: a new desire for comfort. In Proceedings of 7th Windsor Conference: The Changing Context of Comfort in an Unpredictable World (Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings, 2012); https://windsorconference.com/proceedings/

  39. 39.

    Park, C., Lee, H., Hwang, Y. & Radermacher, R. Recent advances in vapor compression cycle technologies. Int. J. Refrig. 60, 118–134 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Rogge, K. S. & Reichardt, K. Policy mixes for sustainability transitions: an extended concept and framework for analysis. Res. Policy 45, 1620–1635 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Tvinnereim, E. & Mehling, M. Carbon pricing and deep decarbonisation. Energy Policy 121, 185–189 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Karali, N. et al. Improving the energy efficiency of room air conditioners in China: costs and benefits. Appl. Energy 258, 114023 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Creutzig, F. et al. Beyond technology: demand-side solutions for climate change mitigation. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 41, 173–198 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Gustavsson, J., Cederberg, C., Sonesson, U., Van Otterdijk, R. & Meybeck, A. Global Food Losses and Food Waste (FAO, 2011).

  45. 45.

    Building Momentum for Impact - K-CEP Year Three Report (K-CEP, 2020); https://www.k-cep.org/year-three-report/

  46. 46.

    Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report 2020 (World Bank Group, 2020).

  47. 47.

    Cooling as a Service (CaaS) (K-CEP, 2019); https://go.nature.com/2RYZKCE

  48. 48.

    Bai, X. et al. Six research priorities for cities. Nature 555, 23–25 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Santamouris, M. & Kolokotsa, D. Passive cooling dissipation techniques for buildings and other structures: the state of the art. Energy Build. 57, 74–94 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Aram, F., Higueras García, E., Solgi, E. & Mansournia, S. Urban green space cooling effect in cities. Heliyon 5, e01339 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Dong, J. et al. Quantitative study on the cooling effect of green roofs in a high-density urban area—a case study of Xiamen, China. J. Clean. Prod. 255, 120152 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Meerow, S. The politics of multifunctional green infrastructure planning in New York City. Cities 100, 102621 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Montreal Protocol on Subtances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Ozone Secretariat United Nations Environment Programme, 1987).

  54. 54.

    Hitchings, R. & Lee, S. J. Air conditioning and the material culture of routine human encasement: the case of young people in contemporary Singapore. J. Mater. Cult. 13, 251–265 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Fujii, H. & Lutzenhiser, L. Japanese residential air-conditioning: natural cooling and intelligent systems. Energy Build. 18, 221–233 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    Cerda Planas, L. moving toward greener societies: moral motivation and green behaviour. Environ. Resour. Econ. 70, 835–860 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Ebeling, F. & Lotz, S. Domestic uptake of green energy promoted by opt-out tariffs. Nat. Clim. Change 5, 868–871 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Otto, I. M. et al. Social tipping dynamics for stabilizing Earth’s climate by 2050. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 117, 2354–2365 (2020).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    Moloney, S., Horne, R. E. & Fien, J. Transitioning to low carbon communities-from behaviour change to systemic change: lessons from Australia. Energy Policy 38, 7614–7623 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Ürge-Vorsatz, D. et al. Advances toward a global net zero building sector. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 45, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-012420-045843 (2020).

  61. 61.

    Werner, S. International review of district heating and cooling. Energy 137, 617–631 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Bhamare, D. K., Rathod, M. K. & Banerjee, J. Passive cooling techniques for building and their applicability in different climatic zones—the state of art. Energy Build. 198, 467–490 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    Feyisa, G. L., Dons, K. & Meilby, H. Efficiency of parks in mitigating urban heat island effect: An example from Addis Ababa. Landsc. Urban Plan. 123, 87–95 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the support provided by the Future of Cooling Programme at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

R.K. led the manuscript conception, design and writing. N.D.M. led data acquisition and analysis on the links between cooling and the SDGs. R.K., N.D.M. and P.A.T. wrote the introduction and the section on cooling and SDG links. A.M. developed the framework visuals. N.D.M., P.A.T., A.M., R.R. and C.M. contributed to the framework writing. A.J., P.A.T. and M.M. contributed to the future agenda. R.K., P.A.T., F.C., M.M. and R.P.-S. revised the manuscript. All authors contributed towards the design of the work and the editing of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Radhika Khosla.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Discussion, Figs. A.1 and A.2, and Tables A.1, A.2, B.1 and C.1.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Khosla, R., Miranda, N.D., Trotter, P.A. et al. Cooling for sustainable development. Nat Sustain (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-020-00627-w

Download citation

Search

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing