Close-up of cooling fan

Photo: Chris Lutke on Unsplash

Future of cooling


The Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Cooling focuses on understanding and shaping sustainable cooling solutions, prioritising passive and less energy-intensive technologies to protect people and prepare countries for extreme heat events.

For billions of people in developing countries cooling is vital for daily comfort, and as heatwaves become more frequent and intense, keeping cool is becoming increasingly important in developed countries. The energy needed for air conditioning is likely to triple by 2050, potentially driving up greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbating the problem it is designed to alleviate.

The Programme's research is led by Associate Professor Radhika Khosla from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and Associate Professor Malcolm McCulloch of the Energy and Power Group in the Department of Engineering Science. The programme was established in October 2019 to bring together the principles, policies, and practical tools to:

  • Create new and more sustainable cooling-related policies through close consultation with decision-makers and policy influencers.
  • Analyse new technologies to assess how they meet rising urban energy consumption needs, especially in fast-growing emerging economies.
  • Inform governments on how best to prepare for extreme heat events through prioritising passive and less energy-intensive technology, while shifting the trajectory of cooling growth towards sustainable options.
  • Help to prevent the cycle of rising temperatures, unprecedented demand for energy-intensive cooling, and increased global warming.
  • Promote human-based behavioural and cultural adaptive strategies.

Our work


In our first 18 months we have...

Education & engagement

Leading academics in the Future of Cooling programme play a vital teaching role on the Smith School’s MSc in Sustainability, Enterprise and the Environment, helping to train the next generation of thought leaders in the transition to net-zero.

Associate Professors Khosla and McCulloch both sit on the examinations board of the MSc inEnergy Systems (Department of Engineering Science).

We are developing several executive education initiatives on climate action, working with corporations and business leaders to encourage responsible decision-making, and to shape the market now and in the future, focused on the areas that can deliver a sustainable future.

Autumn 2021 webinar series

Our team

Dr Radhika Khosla leads the Smith School cooling team

Oxford Martin School team 


Cop28 action plan could reduce global cooling emissions by 96%

UAE daily newspaper The National interviewed Dr Radhika Khosla about the UN's new cooling report, which she led. "Unless this growth in cooling is met sustainably, it’s going to make the achievement of that net zero target [by 2050] very hard, because the rise in emissions that’s going to come from this cooling demand is extremely high," she said.