In the future, only the rich will be able to escape the unbearable heat from climate change. In Iraq, it’s already happening
By Richard Hall
Iraq is used to the stifling summer heat, but the few tools its residents have at their disposal to stay cool are becoming unaffordable for the country’s poor.
At a time when European countries are enduring some of the highest temperatures ever recorded, and as extreme weather becomes more common, Baghdad offers a troubling glimpse into a future where only the wealthy are equipped to escape the effects of climate change.
Nearly 2.8 billion people live in countries where the average daily temperature is greater than 25C, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), and less than 10 per cent of them own an air conditioner. The agency estimates that by 2050, 1.9 billion people living in hot countries will be without access to an air conditioner.
Professor Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and author of the “climate apartheid” report, says the lives of the world’s poorest will be at risk.
“The ever-higher record temperatures that will be recorded in Iraq and around the world will put vast numbers of vulnerable individuals at grave risk. Children, older persons, those who are already ill or are just not very strong, will all be at risk of dying from excessive heat,” he tells The Independent.