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Cooling business is super hot: Here's India's $1.6 trillion heat-wave opportunity

The climate pattern called El Niño has become a big concern for India's economy as it can cause droughts and heatwaves by interfering with the monsoons. With El Niño or without El Niño, heat waves are here to stay and will only get more intense and frequent. By 2030, around 160-200 million people in India could be subjected to lethal heat waves every year.

By 2037, the demand for cooling — for products such as air-conditioners, refrigerators and cold chains — is likely to be eight times more than current levels. This would mean there will be a demand for a new air-conditioner every 15 seconds.

The business of sustainable cooling

India is planning to create a sustainable cooling industry. In 2019, it launched the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) to provide sustainable cooling measures across various sectors, including indoor cooling in buildings; cold chain and refrigeration in the agriculture and pharmaceuticals sector; and air-conditioning in passenger transport. Its aim is to reduce the demand for cooling by up to 25 percent by 2037. A World Bank report in December last year laid down a roadmap for ICAP. The report estimated that keeping spaces cool using alternative and innovative energy-efficient technologies in India can open an investment opportunity of $1.6 trillion by 2040. This also has the potential to create nearly 3.7 million jobs. In this process, given the huge scale, India can emerge as a global hub for green cooling manufacturing.

India's ICAP goals are reduction of cooling demand across sectors by up to 25 percent by 2037-38; reduction of refrigerant demand by up to 30 percent by 2037-38; reduction of cooling energy requirements by up to 40 percent by 2037-38; and training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by 2022-23. The World Bank study, 'Climate Investment Opportunities in India’s Cooling Sector', says 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.

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