The study appeared on Nature Sustainability
(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – If global temperatures increase to 2 degrees, instead of remaining contained at +1.5 ºC, the exposure to heat and therefore the demand for cooling energy will “drastically” increase. To the point that in some countries this increase in demand may cause serious problems of adaptation and add pressure to the transformation of the electricity system. The continent most affected? Europe. A study published in Nature Sustainability supports this.
Who has the biggest cooling energy gap?
There are two kinds of problems. On the one hand, the increase in demand in the absolute sense. Many countries in the equatorial belt will be the most exposed from this point of view. The need for more electricity generation to be able to power air conditioners will be particularly acute in the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Mali, South Sudan, Nigeria, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Uganda and Cameroon. All African countries.
On the other hand, although with lower absolute values, many countries will have difficulty meeting the relative increase in demand for cooling energy. On the other hand, global warming is not running at the same speed everywhere and some regions are more at risk than others, not only from this point of view. Europe will be the continent most tested if we go beyond the 1.5 degree threshold. In fact, 8 of the 10 countries with the highest relative increase are in the old continent. These are Switzerland, Great Britain, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Austria, Denmark and Belgium. The top ten is completed by Canada (7th place) and New Zealand (9th place). Italy is 40 strong with a 13.1% increase in cooling degree days.
Measuring the cooling requirement
In order to measure the impact of global warming at 2 ºC on cooling energy requirements, the authors of the study chose cooling degree days (CDD)an indicator that records the difference between the temperature on a given day and a standard temperature beyond which the need for cooling triggers. The African countries mentioned above have, in absolute terms, 230-260 CDDs per year. While European countries will see their CDDs increase by 21-30%.
“The rise in extreme heat is already driving an unprecedented surge in cooling demand, with a forecast of energy needed for cooling by 2050 equivalent to the combined capacity of the US, EU and Japan in the 2016″, stress the authors. “But how much cooling would be needed if the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 ºC limit were exceeded and the global average temperature increased to 2.0 ºC? The question is crucial, given the growing consensus that currently “there is no credible path to avoiding 1.5 ºC heating”.