"Record-breaking heatwaves in April 2022 put 90% of people in India at
increased risk of going hungry, losing income or premature death, according to
our new study.
After 2022 was designated the hottest in 122 years, extreme heat has appeared
early again this year with over 60% of India recording above-normal maximum
temperatures for April, according to the country’s Meteorological Department.
El Niño, a natural climate event that can increase global temperatures, is also
expected to occur this year.
The increasing frequency of such deadly heatwaves could halt or even reverse
India’s progress in reducing poverty, food and income security and gender
equality, harming the quality of life for over 1.4 billion Indians.
As a natural phenomenon, extreme heat is projected to occur once every 30 years
or so in the Indian subcontinent. This is no longer the case thanks to man-made
climate change. India has suffered over 24,000 heatwave-related deaths since
1992 alone, with the May 1998 heatwave being one of the most devastating as it
claimed over 3,058 lives.
During the May 2010 heatwaves, temperatures in the western city of Ahmedabad
reached 47.8°C and raised heat-related hospital admissions of newborns by 43%,
prompting the city to become one of the country’s first to implement a heat
action plan meant to guide preparations and emergency responses to heatwaves
which has since saved thousands of lives. The 2015 heatwave killed over 2,330
people and prompted the government ministry for disaster management to set
guidelines for preventing deaths during heatwaves and push Indian states to
develop their own plans.
Failure to implement these strategies may stymie India’s economic progress. If
proper heat action plans are not developed, excessive heat could cost India
2.8% and 8.7% of its GDP by 2050 and 2100, respectively. This is a worrying
trend, especially given India’s goal of becoming a 10-trillion-dollar economy
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics