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The worst heatwave in modern history occurred in Russia in 2010; its rare combination of extreme temperatures and long duration killed an estimated 55,000 people. Under an RCP 8.5 scenario, comparable heat waves could occur every two years in the eastern United States by the end of the century, and by then in Europe, the legendary heat wave of 2003 “would be classed as an anomalously cold summer relative to the new climate.” These increased temperatures and heat waves are not just occurring randomly. The science is clear that human activities – mostly greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation – are the major cause.

This article discusses the impacts of rising heat; the methods available to cope with heat (principally air conditioning and the reduction of the urban heat island effect through cool roofs and enhanced vegetation); the existing regulations that deal with heat; and legal tools that can be adopted to enhance resilience to heat.


Environmental Law | Law


Sabin Center for Climate Change Law