By Mathis Barth
Food waste, https://www.istockphoto.com/de
Sustainable cooling is a crucial aspect of achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It plays a critical role in reducing food waste, addressing climate change, and alleviating poverty. In this blog post, we will explore the impact of sustainable cooling on the SDGs, with a particular focus on the food chain, climate change, and poverty, based on the 2020 paper “Cooling for sustainable development” by Radhika Khosla et al.
The Food Chain and Sustainable Cooling
Most of the food waste in more developed countries occurs at the "back end" of the food chain, in grocery stores, restaurants, or households. This is due to the existence of a fully developed cooling chain that prevents food from perishing after production. However, this is not the case in less developed countries, where most of the food waste occurs at the "front end" of the food chain. Food perishes shortly after production or on its way to consumers, resulting in significant losses.
Implementing sustainable cooling chains to produce and distribute food in less developed countries would have a major impact on world hunger and poverty. For example, fishermen who are able to keep their catch cold can sell it at a higher price and have more bargaining power in the market. However, producers in these countries are often price takers, with no power to influence the market price. Without access to sustainable cooling, they cannot keep their food fresh and must sell it immediately, regardless of the market conditions. This puts them at a significant disadvantage and contributes to poverty.
Climate Change and Sustainable Cooling
Sustainable cooling is also important for mitigating the impact of climate change and reducing the demand for space cooling. As temperatures rise, more people will need access to cooling services to stay comfortable and healthy. However, if this cooling is not provided in a sustainable way, it can exacerbate climate change and create a vicious circle of increasing demand for cooling. By implementing sustainable cooling solutions such as passive cooling, green roofs, and natural ventilation, we can reduce our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while still providing cooling services.
Poverty and Sustainable Cooling
Sustainable cooling also has a significant impact on poverty. The temperature of a room affects productivity, making it difficult for people to work or study in uncomfortable conditions. This is particularly true in less developed countries, where many people work or study in poorly ventilated and inadequately cooled spaces. This results in an overall lower output in industry, which leads to a generally lower income.
Returning to the cold chain for food in less developed countries, poverty affects both producers and consumers. Producers cannot keep their food fresh without access to sustainable cooling, which limits their income and puts them at a disadvantage. Consumers, on the other hand, may not have access to refrigerators or cooling technologies, making it difficult to keep food fresh and safe to eat. Additionally, without access to refrigeration and cooling technologies, consumers in less developed countries may spend a significant amount of time cooking and ensuring food safety, taking away time that could have been dedicated to work and generating income. This leads to more food waste, higher food costs, and increased poverty.
The Importance of Sustainable Cooling for Achieving the SDGs
In conclusion, sustainable cooling plays a critical role in achieving the 17 SDGs, particularly in addressing food waste, climate change, and poverty. Sustainable cooling solutions can help reduce food waste, increase food security, mitigate climate change, promote energy security, and improve public health. By investing in sustainable cooling technologies and practices, we can help create a more sustainable and equitable world.