AHMEDABAD, INDIA – The 5th edition of Ahmedabad’s groundbreaking plan to protect people from killer heat waves will shield the most vulnerable with a new initiative to cool hundreds of buildings and issue orange and red heat warnings on LED display boards across the city, city leaders and partners announced today.
Ahmedabad launched the first “Heat Action Plan” in South Asia in 2013. It has grown, become popular in the western Indian city, and prompted several other cities in India to adopt their own similar strategies, even as climate change has driven temperatures higher across India.
“The Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan is a necessary step towards protecting our communities from extreme heat and a valuable model for future climate adaptation efforts in other communities,” said Ahmedabad Mayor Gautam Shah.
The 2017 Ahmedabad plan released today adds an innovative “cool roofs” strategy. Simple steps such as painting roofs with lime-based white wash, adding tarp-like coverings or white ceramic tiles—low cost, high-impact measures—can help bring roof surface temperatures down by as much as 30 degrees centigrade and reduce indoor temperatures by 3 to 7 degrees centigrade. The goal is to convert at least 500 roofs, including government and business buildings across Ahmedabad.
The plan also will help deploy more public warning messages about extreme heat days on electronic display boards in the city used for public notices. The messages will be transmitted via orange and red alert warnings on the LED boards. The Indian Meteorology Department will provide temperature forecasts. This will enhance the city’s early warning system and inter-agency coordination.
Ahmedabad’s Heat Action Plan already has a comprehensive early warning system used during heat waves, a robust public education campaign about how to avoid harm from excessive heat, inter-agency coordination to alert residents of predicted high temperatures, training for health care professionals to prevent heat-related illnesses and death, and mapping of high-risk areas and communications.
The 2017 Heat Action Plan is being released by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, public health and international climate experts at the Indian Meteorological Department, Indian Institute of Public Health-Gandhinagar (IIPH-G), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which works in India on climate and health issues.
“India is showing the world that in our fight against climate change we can take smart steps right now to protect millions of people from deadly heat waves. These groundbreaking heat action plans also demonstrate that it’s feasible, cost-effective and sensible to create similar heat preparedness plans across Indian cities and states,” said Nehmat Kaur of NRDC’s India Initiative.
In May of 2010, Ahmedabad suffered a major heat wave—temperatures exceeded 46.8°C (more than 116°F)—which led to 1,344 additional deaths that month, as compared to the 2009 and 2011 average. That heat wave was a wakeup call that intergovernmental agency action, preparedness, and community outreach was needed to save lives. That gave rise to the Heat Action Plan strategy that improves climate resilience, protects vulnerable citizens, and deploys warnings ahead of heat waves to help people protect themselves, according to the 2017 heat preparedness strategy.
“Ahmedabad’s innovative model for preparing vulnerable populations for rising temperatures, such as school children, the elderly, the poor and outdoor laborers, has been very effective,” said Dr. Dileep Mavalankar, director of the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar, one of the coalition partners who first developed the Ahmedabad heat action plan. “During the devastating 2015 heat wave that left 2,300 dead across our country, fewer than 20 heat-related deaths were reported in Ahmedabad. That is an impressive testament for a program that continues to improve in a city home to more than seven million people.”
A result of climate change, temperatures have been rising in India, putting millions at risk for heat-related illnesses. Relief likely will be short-lived, and forecasts from the Indian Meteorological Department predict extremely high temperatures in the coming months of 2017.
“As an international partner, I am proud to work with the Indian government to address climate change, a stark contrast to the climate retreat charted by President Trump. A year ago, who would have expected that India would take stronger action on climate change than the United States? The Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan and plans from other cities demonstrate India’s leadership,” said Anjali Jaiswal, director of NRDC’s India Program.
Ahmedabad’s 2017 Heat Action Plan is here: https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/ahmedabad-heat-action-plan-2017.pdf
A blog by Anjali Jaiswal on the heat initiative is here: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/anjali-jaiswal/5-reasons-why-ahmedabad-heat-action-plan-saves-lives
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC and @NRDC_India.