Climate Action

Record-breaking heat wave strains ‘limits of human survivability’ in India and Pakistan

People in India and Pakistan are experiencing “unprecedented” heat wave with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius or above.

People in India and Pakistan are experiencing “unprecedented” heat wave with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius or above. Image: REUTERS/Ritesh Shukla

Olivia Rosane
Freelance Reporter, Ecowatch
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Climate Action?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Pakistan is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


  • At least a billion people in India and Pakistan experienced record-breaking heatwaves in April, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius.
  • The “unprecedented” heat waves were in keeping with what scientists predicted would happen with climate change, said an expert.
  • The extreme temperatures also put around seven million people at risk of flooding from melting glaciers.

At least a billion people sweltered under extreme temperatures in India and Pakistan as the two countries endure a record-breaking heat wave.

Northwest and central India saw their highest average maximum temperature for April since record keeping began 122 years ago, according to Indian Meteorological Department data reported by CNN. Meanwhile, Jacobabad, Pakistan reached 49 degrees Celsius on Saturday, which is one of the hottest April temperatures ever recorded, according to The Guardian.

“We are living in hell,” Nazeer Ahmed of Turbat, Pakistan told The Guardian.

Sweltering heat wave in India and Pakistan


Ahmed’s experience exemplifies what happens when extreme weather fueled by the climate crisis strains the ability of a nation’s infrastructure to meet it. Both Pakistan and India are dealing with energy shortages, and Ahmed said that Turbat does not receive enough energy to power refrigerators or air conditioners.

Electricity demands have also resulted in coal shortages in parts of India, some of which have been without power for as many as nine hours a day, according to CNN. Some states have also canceled school, since traveling to the classroom in high heat put strain on students’ health and caused some of them to develop nose bleeds.

“We don’t have a heat action plan and there are gaps in planning,” Dr. Chandni Singh, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lead author and senior researcher at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, told CNN. “You can only adapt so much. This heatwave is testing the limits of human survivability.”

Singh said the “unprecedented” heat wave was in keeping with what scientists predicted would happen as global temperatures continue to rise due to the burning of fossil fuels.

“It is premature to attribute the extreme heat in India and Pakistan solely to climate change. However, it is consistent with what we expect in a changing climate. Heatwaves are more frequent and more intense and starting earlier than in the past,” World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

At least a billion people experienced temperatures 40 degrees Celsius or above from Thursday to Sunday in the two countries, according to Axios, and several experienced highs of 43 degrees Celsius or higher. Banda in Uttar Pradesh set an April record of 47.2 degrees Celsius on Friday, while Nawabshah, Pakistan hit 49.5 degrees Celsius on Sunday, likely the highest temperature on record for the Northern Hemisphere so far in 2022.


What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

India also experienced its hottest March on record, and this has harmed its wheat crop, AP News reported. Further, the hot temperatures means that around seven million people are at risk from flooding as glaciers melt quickly in the Himalaya, Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountains, Reuters reported.

Both countries are expected to see some relief this week, with temperatures falling by three to four degrees Celsius in Northwest India and returning to a seasonal average of 40 degrees in Pakistan, CNN reported.

However, heat wave like this will only persist if nothing is done to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Historical emitters of greenhouse gases have to step up because we are, in countries like India and Pakistan, really hitting the limits of adapting to heat,” Singh told Democracy Now.

Have you read?
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Climate ActionGeographies in Depth
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Climate transition plans: CEOs on how to deliver more than just net-zero

Pim Valdre and Nicolas Salomon

June 19, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum