A new Parliament Environment Audit Committee inquiry will focus on three overarching issues:

  • The relationship between heat and health, and which communities are most affected. Between June and August 2022, the five heat-periods resulted in excess mortality of 3,271 deaths, of which 2,803 were those aged over 65. MPs will be seeking to understand better how the most vulnerable can be better protected;
  • Government policies in relation to current and future need for cooling. The Climate Change Committee has previously warned that the Government’s progress on adaptation fails to adequately address the risks identified, and that the effect of increasing temperatures on human health was highlighted as a particular weakness;
  • What measures could be taken to increase adaptation and resilience to rising temperatures. MPs will aim to uncover sustainable cooling solutions and adaptation strategies that minimise overheating, reduce energy consumption and prevent overloading the electricity grid. Many look to air conditioning units in warmer temperatures, but there could be less energy-intensive alternatives such as solar protection devices, ceiling fans and nature-based solutions.

MPs are aiming to understand how communities can better adapt to increased temperatures without relying on energy-intensive solutions, such as air conditioning units.  

The inquiry is open to submission of evidence until 17th August. See the call here https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/3180/ to find out how you can respond.

The Institute of Refrigeration Technical Committee and Environment Group are preparing an IOR response to the inquiry questions that will be published on our website shortly.

Selection of the Questions being addressed by the Inquiry.

  1. How can sustainable cooling solutions and adaptation strategies be implemented in such a way as to minimise overheating, reduce energy consumption and prevent overloading of the electricity grid during peak demand?
  2. To what extent do the Government’s Climate Change Risk Assessment and National Adaptation Programme (as well as other related strategies such as the Net Zero Strategy and Heat and Buildings Strategy) identify and address the risks from extreme heat?
  3. Does the current planning framework do enough to encourage heat resilience measures such as cooling shelters, water bodies, green infrastructure and shading to be integrated into urban planning? Where such measures are incorporated, how accessible and successful are they?
  4. What role might reversible heat pumps (which can act as both heating and cooling systems) and other emerging
  5. How can cleaner refrigerants with low or zero global warming potentials support the UK’s cooling needs while contributing to the national emission reduction targets?
  6. technological solutions, such as the development of smart materials, play in meeting future cooling demands?
  7. Does the UK need a dedicated Heat Resilience Strategy? What lessons can be learned from other nations when it comes to national strategies for heat resilience?