Urban Heat Islands and Climate Change: Threat to Delhi’s Future

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Aarav Singh, Grade 8 student of Shiv Nadar School, Gurgaon speaks about urban heat islands and rising temperatures in New Delhi in this blog.

Climate change is a serious and worrying phenomenon currently affecting India, and it poses a significant risk to the future of our planet. The city of Delhi, in particular, is experiencing a crisis, with an expected loss of Rs 2.75 trillion by 2050, as per the city government’s draft action plan on climate change, due to the negative impact of climate change. The rapid increase in temperature in Delhi is a major concern, as it indicates a severe climate change issue that requires urgent attention.

In 2022, the maximum daily temperature in Delhi increased by approximately 9 degrees compared to the average of 4 degrees between 1981 and 2010, a significant rise. This increase can be attributed to several factors, such as heatwaves, overpopulation, lack of space, vehicular pollution, and industrial carbon emissions. Despite being the metropolitan capital of India and the second most developed city in the nation, there has yet to be any effective action taken against rising temperatures.

The ‘urban heat island effect’ is especially responsible for increasing the temperature of cities like Delhi. This occurs when urban areas experience considerably higher temperatures than the surrounding rural areas, leading to elevated energy expenses, increased levels of air pollution, and a rise in heat-related illnesses and fatalities.

Several factors contribute to the ‘urban heat island effect’, including overpopulation, which results in deforestation to build more housing, trapping greenhouse gases and heating. Unsustainable infrastructure, such as high-rise glass facades of corporate offices, act as greenhouses, heating the surroundings. Additionally, asphalt and concrete trap heat, increasing the chance of heatwaves. Lastly, stubble burning is one of the primary contributors to carbon emissions in Delhi. It refers to the burning of stalks that are left unproductive after harvest, and the smoke released from this malicious practice results in hazardous diseases for many, such as asthma and lung cancer.

It is crucial to take immediate action to address the effects of climate change and the ‘urban heat island effect’ in Delhi. However, modern problems require innovative solutions that are tailored to specific issues. One promising idea is the concept of ‘workcations,’ which involves incorporating natural elements instead of the traditional corporate setup. This approach can replace glass buildings that act like greenhouses and contribute to the heat island effect. Also, roads can be made reflective using reflective coatings mixed with resin instead of the traditional asphalt and bitumen mixture. Companies like PepsiCo have already initiated projects that convert organic waste and landfill waste into fuels like methane, thus helping boost the economy, reduce pollution, and provide growth opportunities to farmers.

Delhi’s future is at risk due to the severe effects of climate change and the urban heat island effect. However, by taking immediate action and implementing creative solutions, we can work towards a sustainable future and ensure a better world for the future. From incorporating natural elements in our workspaces to converting waste into fuel, every step towards sustainability is a step towards a brighter future. Let us come together and work towards mitigating the adverse effects of climate change, preserving our planet, and building a better tomorrow.


Aarav Singh, Grade 8 student of Shiv Nadar School, Gurgaon

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