As a direct consequence of the climate emergency, India recorded heat waves throughout the month of April described as some of the worst in history. Data from the Meteorological Department show that the average maximum temperature observed was 35.3°C, the third highest since 1901, when information began to be collected. Peaks of 46°C were even reported last week.
Even more serious are the situations in the northwestern and central parts of the country, which are most affected by extreme heat. Last month’s high averages — 38°C and 36.3°C, respectively — were the highest in 122 years for the regions, according to the department.
Neighboring Pakistan has seen a similar scenario. The country recorded the warmest March in 61 years, according to Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman, who urged the national government and local administrations to take precautionary measures after temperatures reached as high as 47°C.
Scientists warn that 1 billion people out of the population of 1.38 billion are at risk of being affected by heat waves, and the consequences are being felt in everyday life, with record electricity demand in India, changing service hours and increased frequency of fire outbreaks.
Analysis by Reuters showed that energy demand grew 13.2% in the last month, as the need for electricity, especially in the north, jumped between 16% and 75%. The scenario is expected to become even more challenging, as the institutes predict similarly high temperatures for May, with peaks of 40°C.
The capital, New Delhi, for example, recorded record energy demand on Monday, when 6,194 megawatts were needed, the highest value ever for the first week of May. In April, the situation was similar, when energy demand increased by 42%, the Reuters survey showed.
And the unprecedented use of electricity has resulted in widespread power cuts as coal inventories are at their lowest for the period in at least nine years. To reduce usage, states such as Haryana announced a change in school hours, and in other provinces authorities moved students’ summer vacations forward.
Seven states, according to a count by the AFP agency, suffered the worst power cuts in more than six years, mostly in the north of the country. Three major fires were recorded in less than a month at the Ghazipur landfill, the capital’s largest, where there are 65-meter mountains of garbage — the lack of infrastructure to deal with the 12,000 tons of waste produced daily is a latent challenge in New York. delhi
The crisis has made the expression climate change increasingly come into the vocabulary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India is the fourth largest global emitter of carbon dioxide, behind only China, the US and the European Union, according to the EU’s Edgar database, a reference on the subject. The per capita emission in 2019 was 1.9 tons.
Modi warned in a speech last week that the fact that the country is getting warmer increases the likelihood of fires. “Temperatures are rising rapidly and rising much faster than usual,” he told a virtual conference for heads of local governments. “In recent days we have seen episodes in various places — in forests, in important buildings and in hospitals.”
Heat waves have killed more than 6,500 people in India since 2010, scientist Mariam Zachariah of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London told AFP. “Before human activities increased global temperatures, heat like this that hit India was only observed once every 50 years. Now, we can expect temperatures this high at least once every four years.”
During the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, which took place in Glasgow, Scotland, last year, Modi announced the goal of reducing the country’s carbon emissions by 2030 and zeroing them by 2070. from China to soften a target on coal, in order to continue its consumption.
On Monday, he also formed a partnership with Prime Minister Olaf Scholz’s Germany to help India meet climate goals. Berlin must send €10 billion (R$ 53 billion) to New Delhi.