Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

Sweltering heatwave adds to power cuts misery

Creative Commons
Iraqis cool off at a water park
  • Only those who can afford private generators keep air con running
  • Anger over blackouts helped fuel deadly protests in 2019 and 2020 

Iraq’s problems are piling up and threatening protests: Price increases, a faltering power grid and a summer heatwave made all the more unbearable by electricity outages limiting air conditioning and the use of fridges for many.

While the southern city of Basra is used to scorching summers, this year it has started sooner than expected, bringing misery to residents in a city also plagued by chronic electricity shortages.

Just days into summer, the temperature in Basra has already soared to around 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).

Further north in the capital Baghdad, temperatures have already topped 50 Celsius in the shade.

Battered by decades of conflict that has sapped its infrastructure, Iraq is struggling with droughts, repeated sandstorms, desertification and a drop in some river levels.

Power cuts are exacerbated in the summer, and only those who can afford private generators are able to keep their fridges or air conditioning units running.

In Basra, high humidity compounds the oppressive heat.

And with many Iraqis struggling to survive, spending around $105 dollars a month for a private generator is not an option.

The authorities have failed to provide an adequate mains supply even though Iraq is the second-largest oil producer in the OPEC cartel.

But the once thriving country has for years bought gas from neighbouring Iran, which supplies about one-third of its power sector needs.

US sanctions on Iranian oil and gas have complicated Baghdad’s payments for the imports, leaving Iraq in heavy arrears and prompting Tehran to periodically switch off the taps.

The result is longer power cuts for most of Iraq’s 41-million-strong population, many of whom blame politicians and endemic corruption for their plight.

Anger over blackouts helped fuel deadly protests from late 2019 to mid-2020, including many in southern Iraq.

The United Nations ranks Iraq as one of the top five countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Since mid-April, it has been battered by 10 sandstorms, a product of intense drought, soil degradation, high temperatures and low rainfall linked to climate change.

President Barham Saleh has warned that tackling climate change “must become a national priority for Iraq as it is an existential threat to the future of our generations to come”.

But efforts to address such issues appear to have been shelved, as Iraq grapples with political deadlock that has left it without a new government after polls last October.

The World Bank has warned that unless solutions are found, Iraq could lose 20 percent of its water resources by 2050 due to climate change.

Latest articles

Opec Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais says peak oil 'is not on the horizon'

Upstream oil and gas ‘needs more annual investment’

Annual capital expenditure for exploration and production in the upstream sector of the oil industry needs to increase by 22 percent by 2030 because of growing demand and cost inflation, experts say. A cumulative $4.3 trillion needs to be invested between 2025 and 2030, according to a report by the International Energy Forum (IEF) and […]

Rothschild Saudi

Edmond de Rothschild to run funding vehicle for Saudi projects

The Edmond de Rothschild Group is establishing a funding vehicle for infrastructure projects in Saudi Arabia along with the local firm SNB Capital, as part of a deal in which the Swiss investment bank will set up offices in the country.  Saudi Arabia’s massive economic diversification programme has run into financial obstacles as it faces […]

Turkey foreign property sales

Foreigners turning back on Turkish real estate

Foreign buyers are increasingly shunning the Turkish property market, wary of high prices, the expensive cost of living and a less welcoming environment for overseas real estate investors. There were only 2,064 residential units sold to foreign buyers in May, 35 percent down on the same month last year, data issued by the state statistics […]

2KEY8G1 Emirates Airline Airbus A380 aircraft landing. Aerial view of Emirates Airlines A380-800 airplane. An Emirates plane coming in to land at LAX; a spokesperson for Emirates said the contraventions were for safety reasons

US fines Emirates for operating in prohibited airspace

Emirates has been fined $1.5 million by the US Transportation Department for operating flights carrying JetBlue Airways’ JBLU.O designator code in prohibited airspace. The transportation department said that between December 2021 and August 2022, Emirates operated a significant number of flights carrying the JetBlue Airways code between the United Arab Emirates and the United States […]