Context: Cities are where the cooling challenge is felt most acutely. Depending on the climate zone, the urban heat island (UHI) effect can raise urban temperatures as much as 5°C compared with surrounding rural areas and the very nature of urban environments makes access to passive cooling approaches far more challenging. Urbanization and rising incomes also mean that demand for cooling is rising far more rapidly in cities with direct consequences for both city residents and the local electricity systems. The problem is also highly concentrated: just 100 cities account for 18 percent of global emissions—with a disproportionate and growing share of those emissions related to cooling in dense, hot, fast-growing megacities. In both developed and developing markets impoverished and underinvested districts within a city can be urban heat traps placing the problem of access to cooling disproportionally on those least likely to be able to afford it.

A holistic approach to sustainable space cooling at a city level would most logically be structured around the accepted sequence of first working to avoid or reduce cooling loads, then using more sustainable technologies and solutions to serve residual cooling loads, and then optimizing, operation and maintenance practices to optimize the performance of the whole cooling system in the context of the overall energy system.

Objectives While significant work has been undertaken on the subject of sustainable cooling, there is a lack of a handbook of best practices that can be followed at a city level in a manner that does not challenge national pre-emption authority while still providing the opportunity for leadership and transformative action. The aim of this working group is to develop guidance encompassed within a handbook that will enable city officials to develop a sustainable cooling roadmap /urban cooling action plan specific to the needs and opportunities represented by the unique characteristics of their city environment or unique districts within a city.


– Lead: Iain Campbell, Senior Fellow, Rocky Mountain Institute,

– Facilitator: Lily Riahi, Cool Coalition Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),

– Co-Facilitator: Sophie Loran, Cool Coalition Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),