Heatwaves in Paris. Can we cope without air conditioning?

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Temperatures at 4 a.m. after nine days of a heatwave similar to the one in 2003.

Temperatures at 4 a.m. after nine days of a heatwave similar to the one in 2003. Left, without air conditioning; Right, with air conditioning and adaptive measures: urban greening, thermal insulation, reflective walls and roofs and effective recommendations for moderate use of air conditioning. © Vincent Viguié et al 2020

Heatwaves are set to increase both in frequency and intensity in coming years, posing a threat to human health and well-being. But could we find a way to adapt to them without resorting massively to air conditioning, whose high energy demands jeopardise our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? According to an interdisciplinary team from École des Ponts ParisTech, CNRS, Météo-France 1 and CSTB, this will be difficult to achieve in the Paris region.  Nevertheless, urban greening, better building insulation, reflective roofs and tips for moderate use of air conditioning could together make it possible to halve the energy consumed, as shown by the results published by this group in Environmental Research Letters on July 2nd, 2020.


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