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More than 1.2bn people face potentially fatal health risks from extreme heat, report says

More than 1.2bn urban and rural poor people are at high risk from extreme heat and a lack of cooling, a new report states.

This represents an increase of more than 28 million people compared to 2021, according to Chilling Prospects, a report by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).

The release of the report comes as South Asia struggles with a long-running heatwave that has seen temperatures hit an unprecedented 49C in Delhi.

The same temperature has been recorded in other parts across India and Pakistan , while governments issue health warnings and urge people to remain indoors.

Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for SEforALL, said: “Cooling is a make-or-break issue. With one in every seven people at risk from life-threatening temperatures or broken cold chains, neither people nor the planet can afford inaction on sustainable cooling.”

In 2014, the World Health Organization predicted that 12,000 people would lose their lives annually due to heatwaves. but research for the Lancet shows that extreme heat caused the deaths of 356,000 people in 2019 alone.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on Adaptation outlined how the risks of heat extremes are even higher in cities.

By 2050, 68 per cent of the global population is expected to live in urban areas, with the number of megacities exceeding 10m inhabitants expected to reach 43—many of these in developing regions

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said: “We need everybody acting under one vision to decarbonize the cooling sector by 2050. A vision of a world in which we keep our planet, homes and workplaces cool by combining the right technologies with the power of the natural world.”

The report urges investment in nature-based solutions such as tree planting in urban areas and technology-based solutions such as affordable hyper-efficient air conditioners, well-designed buildings, and district cooling systems.


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