[Answered] The growth in global demand for space cooling is putting pressure on electricity grids and driving up local and global emissions. Discuss the steps taken by India to tackle this issue.

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Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some steps taken by India to tackle the issue of growing cooling demand.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Space cooling- typically by means of an electric powered fan or air conditioning (AC) system- is contributing increasingly to global energy demand. Global sales of ACs have been growing steadily and significantly. Increased AC loads push up not only overall power needs, but also the need for generation and distribution capacity to meet demand at peak times, placing further stress on the power system.

Steps taken by India:

  • India became the first major country in the world to develop a national policy document on cooling, the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) in 2019 to provide a 20-year roadmap on the evolving cooling demand, along with several short-term and long-term recommendations to achieve sustainable cooling.
  • The ICAP has close links with several other governmental programmes, such as the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Housing for All), Smart Cities Mission, and National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency.
  • The ICAP encourages the uptake of climate responsive built spaces and passive cooling through (i) increased public procurement of energy efficient ACs, chillers, fans, etc. (ii) providing consumer incentives and awareness campaigns to drive market demand of energy efficient cooling appliances and equipment.
  • The building envelope should comply with the requirements of Eco-Niwas Samhita 2018 to ensure thermal comfort for the occupants of upcoming housing projects like PMAY.
  • To promote the adoption of more energy-efficient ACs, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency defines the minimum energy performance standards for ACs and has been raising this efficiency performance requirement at nearly 3% every year.
  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency has also developed a star label system to help raise consumers’ awareness about room AC efficiency.
  • Ahmedabad, was the first city in South Asia to formulate a heat action plan.

Way forward:

  • The government can support interventions and energy efficiency measures in cooling through standards and labelling schemes, MEPS (minimum energy performance standards) etc.
  • Energy efficient appliances will not only help consumers save money, but also reduce overall energy consumption and therefore emit less CO2 over their lifetime.
  • Policy reforms must ideally focus on controlling the use of refrigerants with high GWP and promote the use of natural refrigerants.
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