India’s heatwave tragedy may be devastating for common men and the ecology of several regions of the country, Modi government is yet to rise from its slumber to start framing of a comprehensive plan to deal with the likely devastation. Union Government has been treating it just as an opportunity to strengthen the cooling sector business, since the tragedy is set to boost cooling business and industry. India has already devised an action plan that is called “India Cooling Action Plan” (ICAP), and now the World Bank is going to support it in a big way.
Treating this heatwave tragedy as simply a money-making opportunity would be a grave mistake, though world’s some of the big players in the cooling sector are finding this heating of India tragedy as investment opportunity in India’s Cooling Sector. World Bank has actually studied this opportunity under the title “Climate Investment Opportunities in India’s Cooling Sector”.
The heatwave tragedy is more serious matter than mere an opportunity for investment and money-making through business, since sever heatwaves are responsible for thousands of deaths across the country, where higher temperatures start rising early in April and goes on increasing for far more extended periods until the monsoon arrives in June end or early July to cover the entire country.
Even in early April this year, India suffered a heatwave that disturbed all human activities in several states including Delhi where temperature rose to 46 degree Celsius. March 2022 was also the hottest ever month for India on record. Alarming frequency of heat waves in the country has reached to such an extent that it may “break the human survivability limit”, a World Bank report has said.
On its impact, even the World Bank has cautioned that rising heat across India could hit economic productivity. Most affected population would be the workforce, since 75 per cent of them need to work under the sun or are exposed to heat. They also need to work even in life-threatening temperatures. It can enforce job losses due to disruptions, and India may account for about 43 per cent of the global job losses due to heat waves by 2030. In absolute terms India’s job losses would by 3.4 crore as against 8 crore globally. This lost labour due to heat and humidity by put India’s GDP at risk up to 4.5 per cent by 2030.
It should be noted that India has no plan to protect the labour force by providing full social security coverage. Thinking for ecological protection from heat wave is therefore out of question. However, India has developed ICAP in 2019, keeping in view the business and investment opportunities.
The abstract from the World Bank study in a praiseworthy tone said, “India, recognizing the complex challenges of rising temperatures, was one of the first countries in the world to develop a comprehensive Cooling Action Plan in 2019. The India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) sets out a long-term vision of ensuring sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits. The ICAP recognizes that cooling is a cross-sectoral challenge, and that sustainable delivery of cooling is needed to deliver climate-resilient economic growth.”
It also says, “To help India achieve the ICAP’s bold vision while identifying entry points for World Bank sectoral engagement, the Bank commissioned a study in December 2020, with the aim of identifying practical ways to Support the Implementation of the ICAP, including via identification of the role of concessional finance in delivering cooling solutions.”
Following a consultation process involving over 20 different stakeholders from academia, industry, think tanks and the Government, the study found that over the next few decades, the projected growth of cooling-related sectors will result in an exponential rise in cooling and refrigerant demands, and energy consumption in all sectors.
This will be matched with an increase in GHG emissions, projected to double by 2027, the abstract of the study mentioned. It concludes that India’s cooling strategy can help mitigate risks of heat on lives and livelihoods, lower carbon emissions, and position India as a global hub for green cooling manufacturing.
Additionally, India’s long-term food security and public health security depend on a reliable cold chain network. Unlocking opportunities to create a sustainable cooling strategy will also help India in its post-COVID recovery by boosting investments, creating jobs, reducing emissions, and securing the supply chains of medical care products, health infrastructure, as well as food products.
The study includes a series of roadmaps designed to help achieve sustainable cooling in key ICAP thematic areas, i.e., Space Cooling in Buildings, Cold-Chain and Refrigeration (Agriculture and Health), Passenger Transport Air-Conditioning and Refrigerants.
The study finds that concessional finance by multilateral development banks, financial institutions and the private sector will play a key role in helping India develop financial instruments and innovative models to accelerate the adoption of sustainable cooling measures. These innovative financial instruments will be crucial to develop and transform the cooling market in India.
Government of India says that ICAP provides an integrated vision towards cooling across sectors encompassing, inter alia, reduction of cooling demand, refrigerant transition, enhancing energy efficiency and better technology options by 2037-38 through forging synergies with on-going programmes/ schemes of the Government.
It would cover various thematic areas, such as reduction of cooling and energy demand in space cooling in building sector, promoting passive cooling in buildings through energy efficiency through Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) and Eco-Niwas Samhita for residential building (ECBC-R), sponsor studies on promoting non-Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) and low Global Warming Potential based technologies, promote indigenous development of low global warming potential refrigerants, and up-skilling and certification of 43,450 Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (RAC) service technicians under National Skill Qualification Network (NSQF) of PM Kaushal Vikas Yojna. In addition 29,000 RAC technicians are being trained as part of HCRCs phase out Management Plans under the Montreal Protocol.
It all shows that India is yet to have a comprehensive plan to deal with the heatwave tragedy that is likely to hit the country hardest in near future. India’s Cooling Action Plan is merely a sectoral approach. (IPA Service)