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Explained: As India Becomes One Of World’s First To Develop Cooling Action Plan, Here’s Why It’s Critical

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  • India is one of the first countries in the world to develop such a comprehensive cooling action plan

India Cooling Action Plan received praise from the United Nations on World Ozone Day, that is 16 September.

“It is heartening to note that a step taken by India has led to a global recognition of this important policy initiative which can help in climate action and achievement of sustainable development goals,” Union Minister of State (MoS) for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Babul Supriyo said.

The plan aims to address the demand for cooling in different sectors including residential and commercial buildings, cold-chain, refrigeration, transport and industries. India is one of the first countries in the world to develop such a comprehensive cooling action plan.

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While launching the plan on 8 March, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “The overarching goal of ICAP is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society. This will also help in reducing both direct and indirect emissions.”

What It Seeks To Do

The plan recognises the unique situation of a tropical country like India where the cooling needs of a large number of people has to be met as the per capita income increases, along with the need to curb carbon emissions. It aims to combine the socio-economic goals with environmental goals.

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Here are its key objectives:

  • reduce cooling demand across sectors by 20 to 25 per cent by 2037-38
  • reduce refrigerant demand by 25 to 30 per cent by 2037-38
  • reduce cooling energy requirements by 25 to 40 per cent by 2037-38
  • recognise “cooling and related areas” as a thrust area of research under national science and technology programme
  • training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by 2022-23, synergising with Skill India Mission.

These will help in reducing the carbon emissions on account of the cooling requirements. While most initiatives against climate change focus on ‘supply side’ of the emissions - efficiency of the coal thermal power plants, appliances, better emission norms etc - the ICAP also focuses on the ‘demand side’.

Why Is Such A Policy Critical

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India’s aggregate cooling demand is set to increase by eight times in the next 20 years, in which building sector (space cooling) will show the highest growth (nearly 11 times).

Therefore, the cooling plan is especially important for India witnessing fast-pace of change be it urbanisation or incomes. Once a large population is set in its high consumption ways, supply side measures can only have a limited effect.

Apart from the climate change, sustainable cooling also has other benefits.

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Cooling is linked to better health and productivity and the ICAP plans to provide thermal comfort to all including in EWS and LIG housing. Better cold chain infrastructure will lead to better value of produce to farmers, less wastage of produce, and better price discovery as distress sales will be lesser.

The training and certification to technicians will help them tap the job opportunities arising in the field due to increasing demand of air conditioners, central cooling system etc.

The mission will also give a boost to domestic manufacturing of the machinery and appliances required. India also has the potential to becomes a robust research and development base for the alternative cooling technologies.

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The Gulf Cooperation Council countries provide an example of application of district cooling system which is more energy-efficient, more cost-effective, as well as reduces peak power requirements.

DCS involves aggregation of demand, centralised production and distribution of cooling energy. Under it, water is cooled at a central facility and then delivered via underground insulated pipelines to different buildings, the cold water is then utilised to cool the indoor air.

The ICAP will be carried out in harmony with other missions and projects like Housing for All, the Smart Cities Mission, Doubling Farmers Income and Skill India Mission and Make in India, to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

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The success of India’s cooling plan will also offer valuable lessons to other developing countries facing similar challenges.

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