The intense heat in India and Pakistan has made people “suffocate” and forced India to abandon its policy of reducing coal imports to prevent further power outages.
As temperatures in India rose, demand for electricity reached a record high in April, and the surge in air conditioning use caused the worst electricity crisis in more than six years.
Demands for power have forced India to abandon its policy of reducing coal imports. Coal combustion produces about 60-70% of electricity.
The world’s second-largest coal consumer was waiting for the phasing out of the dirtiest fossil fuels after the COP26 climate conference pledged to achieve clean zero emissions by 2070.
But the federal government has asked public and private utilities to ensure the delivery of 19 million tons of coal from abroad by the end of June, according to Reuters, to urgently avoid new power outages.
Extreme heat engulfed large areas of both countries last week and followed the hottest March since India The Meteorological Division (IMD) began keeping records 122 years ago.
In April, average high temperatures of 35.9C (96.6F) and 37.78C (100F) were recorded in northwestern and central India, said the Director General of the Indian Meteorological Department, and the mercury column soared to 40C (104F) in the capital New York. Delhi during April. a few days.
Pakistan has issued a heat warning after the hottest March in 61 years.
High temperatures are expected to remain in May.
For the first time in decades, the country has moved from winter to summer without spring, Pakistan Federal Minister for Climate Change Gray Raman said over the weekend.
“South Asia, particularly India and Pakistan, has faced record heat. It began in early April and continues to suffocate in any shade,” she said in a statement.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi also warned of the effects of hot temperatures and the growing risk of fires.
Contributions to climate change
Scientists warn that more than a billion people are at risk of heat exposure in the region and link the early onset of intense summer with climate change.
In February, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of India’s vulnerability to extreme heat.
With warming 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures in the capital of West Bengal Kolkata once a year, it could be seen that conditions coincided with temperatures in 2015, when temperatures reached 44 degrees heat (111.2 F) and thousands died across the country. the message said.
With summer temperatures in April and May, cool monsoon rains are expected in June.
Real danger from high temperatures and high humidity
Although the heat threatens life and existence in India, an additional danger is when high temperatures are mixed with high humidity, which makes it difficult for people to cool down through sweat.
Such conditions are measured by a “wet bulb temperature” that records the readings of a thermometer wrapped in a wet cloth.
Of particular concern are the high temperatures on the humid thermometer in India, where most of the country’s 1.4 billion people live in rural areas without access to air conditioners or cooling stations.
Floods from melting glaciers
Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Climate Change also said the government had told provincial disaster relief authorities to urgently prepare for the risk of flooding in the northern mountainous provinces due to the rapid melting of the glacier.
Glaciers in the Himalayas and other mountain ranges have melted rapidly, leaving thousands of glacial lakes in northern Pakistan, about 30 of which are threatened by sudden dangerous floods, the climate change ministry said.