Cooling Infrastructure Deemed Critical as World Faces +50°C Reality

In the face of escalating global temperatures, experts from the University of Birmingham are advocating for the formal recognition of cooling and cold chain systems as critical infrastructure. The report, titled “The Hot Reality: Living in a +50°C World,” underscores the essential role of cooling in adapting to climate change and proposes measures to address the challenges posed by extreme heat.


Critical Infrastructure Designation: The report emphasizes the need for global acknowledgment of cooling infrastructure as critical infrastructure, integral to climate adaptation in a rapidly warming world.

Integrated Climate Change Strategies: National governments are urged to develop comprehensive strategies that prioritize sustainable cooling infrastructure, taking into account the implications for food, health, digital, industrial, and economic security.

Holistic Approach to Planning: Stakeholders, including governments, infrastructure designers, developers, and academia, are encouraged to adopt a holistic, whole-system thinking approach to planning, building, operating, maintaining, adapting, and decommissioning such infrastructure.

Thermal Thinking in Energy Systems: Recognizing that the majority of energy services required for modern society are thermal, the report calls for a thermal thinking approach to global energy

system policymaking, research, and design.

Quantifying Social Impact: Governments are urged to quantify the broader social impact of the cold chain, understanding their stakeholder role and justifying active investment in the development of cooling and cold chain as part of critical infrastructure.


The report underscores the urgency of addressing the challenges presented by living in a world with temperatures exceeding 50°C. Cooling, already responsible for over 7% of all greenhouse gas emissions, is projected to double by 2030. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), driven by global demand for space cooling and refrigeration, are identified as the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.


Professor Toby Peters, co-author of the report, emphasizes the critical nature of cooling infrastructure, stating, “Treating cooling as critical is a matter of survival.” The recommendations outlined in the report aim to guide governments, businesses, and academia in taking immediate, comprehensive steps to address the challenges posed by extreme heat in a rapidly warming world.


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