European countries face an air-conditioning Catch-22 after its red hot, record-breaking summer

Europe is facing a tough winter, as inflation and energy prices continue to rise. The continent also faces tough decisions following its scorching hot summer

Heat waves in Europe broke records, sparked widespread wildfires and even damaged a busy runway at a London airport.

Unlike the U.S., European countries don’t rely on air conditioning to cope with high temperatures. Fewer than 10% of households in Europe owned air conditioners as of 2016, according to the International Energy Agency.

“If we were looking at the beginning of this summer, it was fairly quiet. We were getting typically 20 inquiries a day maybe for people interested in air conditioning,” said Richard Salmon, director of The Air Conditioning Co., which is based in central London.

Demand for air conditioners spiked as temperatures crossed 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the United Kingdom.

“I’ve been here for 15 years and I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” Salmon said.

As countries around the globe rapidly adopt ways to cool their homes and businesses, it becomes more important to install cooling technology that doesn’t contribute to higher temperatures in the future via carbon emissions.

“It is clear that if no effective mitigation strategies will be put in place on a global scale to cut emissions then this kind of summer and these kinds of events will become the new norm,” said Andrea Toreti, senior climate researcher at the European Commission, the executive body of the EU.

Watch the video to learn more about why large parts of Europe don’t have air conditioning, how ACs contribute to climate change, and new kinds of efficient cooling technologies that can mitigate carbon emissions.

Sophie Tremblay

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