Janet Stephenson & Russell Hitchings talk: "Social Interactions and Cooling Cultures"

Past Event

20 September 2021, 9:00am - 10:00am

Event Recording:

Cooling is necessary for the quality of life of billions of people living across countries.

Whether in hot climates or in regions that are traditionally unprepared for ever more frequent heatwaves due to climate change. The energy needed for air conditioning is likely to triple by 2050, with an equivalent of ten new air conditioning units projected to be sold every second for the next 30 years (as per the IEA). This huge demand has the potential to drive up greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbate the very problem it is designed to alleviate. The Future of Cooling Programme’s vision is to understand and shape worldwide cooling solutions which place planetary stewardship and protecting people’s needs at their heart. These will inform and help prepare countries for extreme heat events by prioritising passive and less energy-intensive technology, while shifting the trajectory of cooling growth towards sustainability.

As we move towards one of the most important rounds of the UNFCCC Climate Negotiations, the Future of Cooling programme is hosting a series of online seminars leading up to COP26. The motivation behind the series is the need for high-profile and broad-reaching conversations on tackling cooling as a system -- one that is integral to addressing the climate crisis. The webinars will engage in conversation with academics, industry and policy makers, and cover each of the themes that link to the programme’s framework on sustainable cooling: social interactions and cooling cultures; cooling technology and innovation; models for sustainable cold chains; circular cooling economy; infrastructure design for sustainable cooling; and finally, cooling for climate action.

This talk is organised by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Cooling

Janet Stephenson

Professor Janet Stepheson
Research Professor, Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago, NZ

Janet Stephenson is Research Professor in the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago, NZ. Her research interests include indigenous resource management, the interconnections between people and their local environments, and the role of individuals and organisations in the transition to a sustainable future. Janet has been Director of the Centre for Sustainability since February 2011. Her academic background is in sociology, planning and human geography.

Janet is on the steering committee for the University of Otago research themes Catchments Otago, Otago Energy Research Centre, and Transport Research Network. She is on the Advisory Board of INCLUDE, a Norwegian research centre for socially inclusive energy transitions. She is also a member of the Coastal People: Southern Skies collaboration that connects communities with world-leading, cross-disciplinary research to rebuild coastal ecosystems.

Russell Hitchings

Dr Russell Hitchings
Associate Professor of Human Geography, University College London

Russell Hitchings is Associate Professor of Human Geography at University College London, UK. His research examines various aspects of everyday life that may be changing in ways that have important implications for social wellbeing and environmental sustainability.

His project with Australian and Singaporean academics on Thermal modernity and air-conditioning in Qatar, developed his interest in how ‘thermal comfort’ and the energy demand associated with this idea can be examined through a cultural lens. Through a series of different research activities, and funded by the Qatari National Research Fund, the project examines the link between ideas of social and cultural 'progress' and the provision of air-conditioning in Qatar. The broader aim is to see what such an exercise reveals about whether alternative, less energy consumptive, answers to the question of human comfort may yet be possible in this context.