Cooling for sustainable development


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.

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


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

Author information




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.

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Correspondence to Radhika Khosla.

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Supplementary Information

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

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Khosla, R., Miranda, N.D., Trotter, P.A. et al. Cooling for sustainable development. Nat Sustain (2020).

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