Projections of access to cooling in 2030
- During this decade, persisting poverty and gaps in electricity access, and growing pressure on urban environments will continue to expose millions of people in the world’s hottest countries to high heat-related risks.
- Achieving SDG7.1.1 (electrification) and SDG1.1 (extreme poverty eradication) alone enables solutions that would spare nearly a half billion people from high risk of extreme heat by 2030—reducing the overall number of those at high risk by 36 percent.
- But that alone will not be enough. How cooling needs are met during this decade – how fast, and with which solutions – will be decisive for delivering just, inclusive clean energy transitions, adapting to a warming climate, and keeping the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within reach.
rural and urban poor will be still at risk of lacking access to cooling solutions in 2030, according to the current trends scenario.
less people will be at high risk if SDG 7.1.1 and SDG 1.1. are achieved by 2030.
lower-middle-income people will still be in need of efficient, affordable cooling options in 2030.
For the first time, Chilling Prospects 2022 forecasts scenarios for populations at risk through to 2030. As global temperatures increase, together with the urgency to mitigate and adapt to climate change, demand for cooling will have wide-ranging effects on sustainable development outcomes. In hot countries, delivery of SDG7 and the ability of populations to realize the benefits of equitable and just energy transitions will depend significantly on our ability to close cooling access gaps substantially by 2030.
Access to cooling and risk scenarios in 2030
The projections through to 2030 consider three scenarios. The current trends scenario analyzes how risk related to lack of access to sustainable cooling may evolve between 2022 and 2030 if electricity access and extreme poverty continue to follow trajectories that are in line with current trends and, in the case of electricity access, with projections based on stated policies.
The SDG7.1 scenario analyzes how accelerating rural and urban electrification efforts in order to achieve SDG7.1 would influence the populations at risk due to lack of cooling access.
Finally, the SDG7.1 and SDG1.1 scenario explores how risk may change if universal access to electricity is achieved and, at the same time, extreme poverty is reduced to 3 percent or less of each country’s population by 2030. All scenarios build on business-as-usual or middle projections for other factors that influence access to cooling and associated risks, such as population growth, urbanization, trends in the urban population living in slums, and projections of lower-middle- and middle-income populations. Further details are provided in the Annex.
Published in November 2022, this analysis dives deeper into how progress towards SDG7.2 (renewable energy) and SDG7.3 (energy efficiency) can reduce the number of people at risk and support achieving SDG13 (climate action).
High risk: The scenarios show that across the 54 high-impact countries and high-temperature regions of 22 countries not considered high impact, current trends would leave 1.22 billion people at high risk in 2030, compared to 1.2 billion in the 2022 analysis. This includes 1.18 billion people in high-impact countries and 43 million people in countries not considered high impact. If SDG7.1.1 and SDG1.1 are both achieved, the overall number of people at high risk decreases to 783.3 million — a 36 percent decline — including 745 million people in high-impact countries and 38.3 million people in countries not considered high impact.
To reduce the number of people at risk further and ensure equitable access to sustainable cooling, SDG7.2, SDG7.3 and SDG13 will all need to be achieved.
Medium and low risk: The scenarios underscore that ensuring those at medium and low risk have access to affordable and sustainable cooling solutions is imperative for sustainable energy systems and climate change goals. Under the current trends scenario, the lower-middle-income population (medium risk) will decrease to 1.72 billion people in 2030 across the 54 high-impact countries and high-temperature regions of 22 countries not considered high-impact. Achieving SDG7.1.1 and SDG1.1 by 2030 reduces this population compared to the 2022 analysis, though it remains higher than the current trends and SDG7.1.1. scenarios, likely due to a significant shift from the population at high risk owing to reductions in extreme poverty.
The middle-income (low-risk) population remains relatively stable under each scenario. Compared to the 2021 analysis, the middle-income population rises by approximately 95 million people compared to the 2022 analysis, to 1.46 billion in 2030 if SDG7.1.1 and SDG1.1 are achieved.
The sections that follow disaggregate the impacts of the three scenarios presented for the 54 high-impact countries and the high-temperature regions of 22 countries not considered high impact.
Figure 1.17: Populations at risk across all countries in three scenarios (2022 analysis and 2030 projected)
Cooling access gaps in 2030 in the 54 high-impact countries
Without climate change mitigation, the 54 high-impact countries are projected to have higher risks from unmet cooling needs in the coming decades, due to their increasing temperatures,  frequency of days with dangerous heat, and a high number of cooling degree days (CDDs).  In these countries, the total population is projected to increase from 5.21 billion in 2021 to 5.66 billion in 2030. Within this, approximately 3.1 billion people among the high-impact countries will live in urban settings in 2030, compared to 2.6 billion in 2021, while approximately 2.5 billion people are expected to live in rural settings.  In addition, 235.7 million people in the 22 non-high-impact countries will live in regions with a high heat hazard level, with approximately 67 percent of these in urban areas. With growing urbanization and rural-urban migration, the size of the population living in urban slums is also expected to increase. In fact, SDG11.1 — to ensure access to adequate, safe and affordable housing — is one of the few SDG targets to have reversed its progress in recent years,  and it is estimated that the number of people living in slums in high-impact countries will grow from 808.1 million people in 2021 to 928 million in 2030. 
In this context, how demand for cooling is met — how fast, and with which solutions — will have a significant impact on efforts to end poverty (SDG1), achieve affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (SDG7), and the achievement of several other SDGs.
This segment provides a projection of the populations at risk in high-impact countries due to lack of access to cooling under three scenarios: a current trends scenario, an SDG7.1 scenario (achieving universal access to electricity (SDG7.1.1), and an SDG7.1 & SDG1.1 scenario (achieving universal access to electricity in conjunction with eradicating extreme poverty. Achieving SDG7.1.1 (universal access to electricity) and SDG 1.1 (alleviating poverty) alone will not reduce all access to cooling risks, however it will contribute to a faster shift of populations to lower risk categories (Figure 1.17). Anticipating their role in delivering access to sustainable cooling, this section also describes the role of climate action (SDG13), increasing the share of renewable energy (SDG7.2), improving energy efficiency (SDG7.3), and the implementation of a climate-friendly refrigerant transition, as precursors to future analysis.
Access to cooling trends
The world remains off track to achieve universal access to electricity, and current trends in high-impact countries will result in 427 million people living without access to electricity in 2030, the majority of them in rural areas (369 million in 2030 compared to 363.6 million in 2021) and in Africa. Approximately 73.9 million people will not have access to electricity in urban areas, compared to 58.7 million in 2021. Current trends projections for electricity access rely on a combination of historic trends in high-impact countries and the regional forecast under the International Energy Agency (IEA) Stated Policies Scenario. 
If poverty trends also continue in line with historical trends,  473.9 million people are projected to live on USD 1.90 or less per day in high-impact countries in 2030.   This is a substantial reduction compared to 2021 (722.6 million), but far from the goal of eradicating extreme poverty. Following historical trends, the number of people living on USD 10.01 per day or less is projected to decrease from 3.56 billion in 2021 to 2.81 billion in 2030,  while the population living on USD 20 per day or less will go from 4.82 billion in 2021 to 4.18 billion in 2030. 
Under the current trends scenario, the rural poor population at risk in high-impact countries reaches 306.8 million in 2030, a 17.3 percent decrease compared to the 2022 analysis, following a reduction in extreme poverty and electricity access gaps, together with a reduced rural population. Africa accounts for 65.4 percent of this population. Conversely, the urban poor population at risk grows to 871.9 million, a 6.9 percent increase compared to the 2022 analysis, driven by urbanization and increased risks posed by the urban heat island effect, (UHIE) a loss of heat sinks and informal housing. Asia and the Middle East will continue to account for approximately 63.8 percent of urban poor in 2030. Overall, as many as 1.18 billion people in poor rural and urban areas among the 54 high-impact countries are at high risk due to lack of cooling services to meet their needs for thermal comfort and safety, food security and health services in 2030, slightly above current levels. Critical 9 countries continue to account for most people at high risk (72.4 percent).
Over 1.7 billion lower-middle-income people in high-impact countries may be able to access some cooling solutions but will continue to face risks associated with limited options, particularly for high-humidity heat conditions, and options that are efficient and affordable. Although this is a substantial reduction compared to current levels (-30.6 percent), the lower-middle-income population remains the largest of the four groups of population at risk. Under the current trends scenario, the size of the middle-income population who may be able to access more efficient housing and working environments and to make conscious choices on the use of air-conditioning increases by 3.6 percent in 2030, reaching 1.35 billion people.
Figure 1.18: Populations at risk in the access to cooling current trends scenario (2021–2030)
Achieving SDG7.1.1 — universal access to electricity — by 2030
This scenario examines the impact on cooling access gaps if SDG7.1.1 — universal access to electricity — is achieved in all high-impact countries in both rural and urban areas by 2030. The gaps to be filled in this scenario — and hence the challenge ahead — vary greatly among high-impact countries: while 21 high-impact countries had already reached over 90 percent electricity access in 2019, as many as 16 countries would have to improve their electricity access rates by more than 50 percent by 2030. The challenge is even more significant in rural areas, where 26 high-impact countries would have to improve rural electricity access rates by over 50 percent to meet SDG7.1.
While this scenario assumes universal access to electricity, it does not account for reductions in poverty necessary to achieve SDG1.1. Under the SDG7.1 scenario relatively small changes in the four risk groups for access to cooling are observed compared to current trends: overall, the number of people at high risk is reduced by 6.2 percent, while the number of lower-middle income people at risk increases by 4.2 percent. The only notable reduction is among the rural poor, which decreases by 17.1 percent compared to current trends, to 254.1 million people
Figure 1.19 : Populations at high risk in the access to cooling SDG7.1 scenario compared to current trends
Achieving SDG7.1.1 — universal access to electricity — and SDG1.1 — eradicating extreme poverty — by 2030
This scenario assesses the impact on access to cooling gaps if efforts to close electricity access gaps are aligned with SDG7.1 and are accompanied by reductions of extreme poverty consistent with SDG1.1 (SDG7.1 and SDG1.1 scenario). The assessment shows that under this scenario, the overall number of people at high risk could decrease by almost 37 percent compared to current trends.
Currently, 21 of the 54 high-impact countries appear on track to reduce extreme poverty to 3 percent of their population or less in 2030. Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) projections show that, if the remaining 33 countries were also to accelerate progress towards SDG1.1. and reduce extreme poverty to 3 percent of their population by 2030, the number of people living on USD 1.90 per day or less would decline drastically to 102.4 million.
Under this scenario, the rural poor would see the most notable decrease, falling 87 percent by 2030, to less than 49 million people in high-impact countries. Unlike in other scenarios, the combined effects of electricity access and poverty reduction could outweigh the effects of urbanization, resulting in a 13 percent decrease in the urban poor population by 2030, from 796 million to 696.1 million in the high-impact countries. However, the reduction in risk for the poorest segments of the population is accompanied by a shift to larger lower-middle- and middle-income populations.
Compared to the current trends and SDG7.1 scenarios, risk in lower-middle-income population declines less steeply in this scenario, by approximately -13.7 percent by 2030, reaching 2.07 billion people in 2030. Conversely, growth in the middle-income population accelerates slightly, by 5.7 percent by 2030, reaching 1.37 billion in 2030. The results point to the importance of income, and the fact that reducing access to cooling gaps for the most vulnerable depends on their ability to afford sustainable cooling solutions with access to a modern, reliable bundle of energy services as a prerequisite.
Figure 1.20: Populations at high risk in the access to cooling SDG7.1 & SDG1.1 scenario compared to current trends
Cooling access risk in countries not considered high impact by 2030
The assessment also analyzed the impact of the three scenarios for populations at risk in the 22 countries that are not considered high impact, where cooling access risks are also expected to grow. By 2030, an additional 235.7 million people in these countries are projected to live in regions with a high heat hazard level, approximately 67 percent of them in urban areas.
Generally, similar trends are observed for these people under the three scenarios as those observed in the high-impact countries. Under the current trends scenario, the non-high-impact countries would be home to approximately 188.2 million additional people at risk in 2030, an increase of 13.2 percent compared to the 2022 analysis. This includes increases in rural and urban poor populations at risk by 2.1 million and 10.2 million people respectively, resulting in over 43 million people facing high risk in 2030, a 40 percent increase compared to current levels. Under the SDG7.1 scenario, the rural and urban poor at high risk in the non-high-impact countries would only be reduced by 0.5 percent compared to current trends.
However, reductions in risk are possible if universal access to electricity is achieved in combination with efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In the SDG7.1 and SDG1.1 scenario, the rural poor population at risk falls below current levels to 5.2 million people in 2030, and the urban poor population at risk falls to 33.2 million people. As a result, the population facing high risk in countries not considered high impact would be approximately 10.9 percent lower than under the current trends scenario.
The lower-middle-income and middle-income populations at risk do not vary substantially between the scenarios. The lower-middle-income population decreases from 72 million to 57.4 million people by 2030 in the SDG7.1 scenario, and to 57.1 million in the SDG7.1 and SDG1.1 scenario, reflecting part of the growth in the poorer segment of the population. By contrast, the middle-income population grows from 63.6 million currently to approximately 87.7 and 87.1 respectively.
Figure 1.21 : Populations at risk across countries not considered high impact in three scenarios (2022 analysis and 2030 projected)
Notes and references
 Measured by mean monthly temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius or higher.
 World Bank Climate Change Knowledge Portal. Link.
 World Bank Population Estimates and Projections, 2021.
 UN (2020) Sustainable Development Goals Progress Chart. Link.
 SEforALL projections, 2022.
 IEA. 2022. SDG 7 Data and Projections, Access to Electricity. Link.
 Projections based on the Shared Socioeconomic Pathway scenario SSP 2 “Middle of the Road”, further information is provided in the Annex.
 World Poverty Clock. Link.
 Crespo Cuaresma (2020). Assessing Present and Future Global Poverty: Prospects and Challenges for Achieving SDG1. Link.
 IIASA, 2019.
 Poblete-Cazenave, M., Pachauri, S., Byers, E. et al. 2021. Global scenarios of household access to modern energy services under climate mitigation policy. Link.