‘Common sense’ policies such as free water and reflective roof paint save lives as temperatures near 50C

One morning last week, Mohammad Javed wheeled an air conditioner on to the pavement outside his catering business in Delhi, placed his chair a metre away, sat down and did not move all day. When the machine ran of water, he asked passing boys to fetch a bucket. When he had to give directions to workers in the building across the lane, he shouted. Every few minutes, Javed took a long swig from his water bottle and spat the contents on to the ground without swallowing. “Ramadan,” he explained.

Northern India, like neighbouring Pakistan, is in the grip of a heat wave, with temperatures reaching 47C. A blanket of hot air has settled on the capital clearing pavements across the usually busy capital. India is particularly vulnerable to temperature increases associated with climate change. Since 1992, about 25,000 Indians are estimated to have died because of heat waves. Yet the country is quietly optimistic that it can prevent at least some of those deaths.

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