2 May 2024

Dr Radhika Khosla calls for greater urgency on heat resilience and sustainable cooling

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The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has branded the UK Government’s response to its inquiry into heat resilience and sustainable cooling a “missed opportunity” in a press release published this week. 

The inquiry was launched as a result of a successful pitch from Associate Professor Radhika Khosla and Dr Nicole Miranda, based on their Oxford Martin Future of Cooling research. Both Khosla and Miranda acted as special advisors to the inquiry, and Dr Laurence Wainwright added evidence on the impact of heatwaves on mental health. 

In a statement in the EAC press release, Dr Khosla said that the Government’s response demonstrated “a recognition of the threat of extreme heat” while detailing the existing steps in place to mitigate it. “However, the levels of coordination, knowledge, and capacity building required for a rigorous National Heat Resilience and Sustainable Cooling Strategy are not yet in place… there remains a lack of urgency and commitment to further action.”

“Two gaps that require immediate attention are the need to hone in on overheating in existing buildings and retrofits, and the push to make the protection of green spaces, vital for passive cooling, a statutory requirement for local authorities,” continued Dr Khosla. “The Government notes that voters can take action “at the ballot box” if they feel their local authority is not doing enough in this regard. But, as the heatwave of 2022 demonstrated, extreme heat will not wait for electoral processes to complete before it has a devastating impact on population health and productivity.”

Philip Dunne, MP and EAC chairman, said the Government’s response had left “serious unanswered questions,” while a Government spokesperson told PA media that a “robust” five-year adaptation plan was already in place.