As incomes rise in cities in India, China, and other quickly growing economies, people tend to make three major purchases first: a TV, a refrigerator, and an air conditioner. The number of AC units may swell from 1.2 billion worldwide today to 4.5 billion by 2050–and household air conditioning , alone, could push global warming up half a degree by the end of the century, according to a new report . “The increase in energy consumption for cooling represents a massive risk to meeting our climate goals,” says Richard Branson, who today helped launch both the report and the Global Cooling Prize , a $3 million competition to spur new technology. The prize, he says, “can literally help save the world from the disaster it’s facing.” It’s supported in part by the Indian government, as that country alone will add around 1 billion room air conditioners by the middle of the century. [Photo: Annie Spratt/ Unsplash ] The new competition is designed to provide an incentive to create higher-efficiency air conditioners and support startups in a field that’s currently dominated by a handful of major corporations. To participate, companies need to submit a solution that has five times less […]

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