Fifty million more people face heat-related risks
VIENNA, Austria, 5 May 2021: In a warming world, access to sustainable cooling is not a luxury. It is essential for productivity, a healthy diet and the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. Today 1.09 billion vulnerable people are at high risk, because they face a range of cooling access challenges. COVID-19 has intensified the situation with those forced into poverty due to the pandemic contributing to the 50 million additional urban and rural poor at high risk in 2021. Meanwhile, another 2.3 billion from the lower-middle income group face a different risk – inefficient cooling and refrigeration options that increase harmful GHG levels. Across 54 high-impact countries, 3.4 billion people face cooling access risks in 2021.
The Chilling Prospects 2021 report released today by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) analyses the four populations of urban and rural poor, lower-middle income and middle income in 54 high-impact countries, and reveals that global cooling access risks are on the rise. This is due, in part, to the first global poverty increase seen in 20 years, impacting mostly South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 2020 was one of the hottest years on record, with numerous heatwaves recorded causing wildfires that emitted record amounts of carbon dioxide (CO₂).
“Last year was, without a doubt, a challenging one for all of us, and as the pandemic continues, it is essential more than ever to focus our efforts on increasing energy access,” said Francesco Starace, Chair, SEforALL Administration Board; Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Enel. “Coupled with the effects of climate change, our agendas should prioritise an inclusive energy transition and deliver access to sustainable cooling to support health, economic, and social recovery, especially in areas at high risk. Together, we must tackle the complexity of today’s challenges and commit to achieving with great speed and scale access to clean, sustainable, and affordable energy for everyone throughout the world.”
Challenges, impacts on vulnerable populations
Lack of access to adequate cold chains for life-saving COVID-19 vaccines is one of the most immediate concerns facing developing countries and, indeed, the world. The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that 85 poor countries will not have widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines before 2023, including all African economies, except Gabon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa.