Climate Change

Climate change is driving 2022 extreme heat and flooding

Cracked and dry earth is seen in the wide riverbed of the Loire River near the Anjou-Bretagne bridge as a heatwave hits Europe, in Ancenis-Saint-Gereon, France, Jun 13, 2022. Image: Reuters/Stephane Mahe

From Reuters

LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) – Extreme weather events – from scorching heatwaves to unusually heavy downpours – have caused widespread upheaval across the globe this year, with thousands of people killed and millions more displaced.

In the last three months, monsoon rains unleashed disastrous flooding in Bangladesh, and brutal heatwaves seared parts of South Asia and Europe. Meanwhile, prolonged drought has left millions on the brink of famine in East Africa.

Much of this, scientists say, is what’s expected from climate change.

On Tuesday, a team of climate scientists published a study in the journal Environmental Research: Climate. The researchers scrutinized the role climate change has played in individual weather events over the past two decades.

The findings confirm warnings of how global warming will change our world – and also make clear what information is missing.

For heatwaves and extreme rainfall, “we find we have a much better understanding of how the intensity of these events is changing due to climate change,” said study co-author Luke Harrington, a climate scientist at Victoria University of Wellington.

Less understood, however, is how climate change influences wildfires and drought.

For their review paper, scientists drew upon hundreds of “attribution” studies, or research that aims to calculate how climate change affected an extreme event using computer simulations and weather observations.

There are also large data gaps in many low- and middle-income countries, making it harder to understand what’s happening in those regions, said co-author Friederike Otto, one of the climatologists leading the international research collaboration World Weather Attribution (WWA).


With heatwaves, it’s highly probable that climate change is making things worse.

“Pretty much all heatwaves across the world have been made more intense and more likely by climate change,” said study co-author Ben Clarke, an environmental scientist at the University of Oxford.

In general, a heatwave that previously had a 1 in 10 chance of occurring is now nearly three times as likely — and peaking at temperatures around 1 degree Celsius higher – than it would have been without climate change.

An April heatwave that saw the mercury climb above 50C (122 Fahrenheit) in India and Pakistan, for example, was made 30 times more likely by climate change, according to WWA. 

Heatwaves across the Northern Hemisphere in June – from Europe to the United States – highlight “exactly what our review paper shows … the frequency of heatwaves has gone up so much,” Otto said.


Last week, China saw extensive flooding, following heavy rains. At the same time, Bangladesh was hit with a flood-triggering deluge.

Overall, episodes of heavy rainfall are becoming more common and more intense. That’s because warmer air holds more moisture, so storm clouds are “heavier” before they eventually break.

Still, the impact varies by region, with some areas not receiving enough rain, the study said.


Scientists have a harder time figuring out how climate change affects drought.

Some regions have suffered ongoing dryness. Warmer temperatures in the U.S. West, for example, are melting the snowpack faster and driving evaporation, the study said.

And while East African droughts have yet to be linked directly to climate change, scientists say the decline in the spring rainy season is tied to warmer waters in the Indian Ocean. This causes rains to fall rapidly over the ocean before reaching the Horn. 


Heatwaves and drought conditions are also worsening wildfires, particularly megafires – those that burn more than 100,000 acres.

Fire raged across the U.S. state of New Mexico in April, after a controlled burn set under “much drier conditions than recognized” got out of control, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fires burned 341,000 acres.


On a global scale, the frequency of storms hasn’t increased. However, cyclones are now more common in the central Pacific and North Atlantic, and less so in the Bay of Bengal, western North Pacific and southern Indian Ocean, the study said.

There is also evidence that tropical storms are becoming more intense and even stalling overland, where they can deliver more rain on a single area.

So while climate change might not have made Cyclone Batsirai any more likely to have formed in February, it probably made it more intense, capable of destroying more than 120,000 homes when it hit Madagascar. 

Author: Gloria Dickie

Climate change indicators hit record highs in 2021: UN

The declining water levels on Lake Mead is a result of a climate change-fueled megadrought coupled with increased water demands in the Southwestern United States. Image: AFP/Getty Images/Mario Tama

From AFP

GENEVA: Four key climate change indicators all set new record highs in 2021, the United Nations said Wednesday (May 18), warning that the global energy system was driving humanity towards catastrophe.

Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification all set new records last year, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its “State of the Global Climate in 2021” report.

The annual overview is “a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption”, UN chief Antonio Guterres said.

“The global energy system is broken and bringing us ever closer to climate catastrophe.

“We must end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the renewable energy transition before we incinerate our only home.”

The WMO said human activity was causing planetary-scale changes on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere, with harmful and long-lasting ramifications for ecosystems.


The report confirmed that the past seven years were the top seven hottest years on record.

Back-to-back La Nina events at the start and end of 2021 had a cooling effect on global temperatures last year.

Even so, it was still one of the warmest years ever recorded, with the average global temperature in 2021 about 1.11 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level.

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change saw countries agree to cap global warming at “well below” 2 degrees Celcius above average levels measured between 1850 and 1900 – and 1.5 degrees Celcius if possible.

“Our climate is changing before our eyes,” said WMO chief Petteri Taalas.

“The heat trapped by human-induced greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations to come. Sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification will continue for hundreds of years unless means to remove carbon from the atmosphere are invented.”


Four key indicators of climate change “build a consistent picture of a warming world that touches all parts of the Earth system”, the report said.

Greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new global high in 2020, when the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 413.2 parts per million (ppm) globally, or 149 per cent of the preindustrial level.

Data indicate that they continued to increase in 2021 and early 2022, with monthly average CO2 at Mona Loa in Hawaii reaching 416.45 ppm in April 2020, 419.05 ppm in April 2021, and 420.23 ppm in April 2022, the report said.

Global mean sea level reached a new record high in 2021, rising an average of 4.5 millimetres per year throughout 2013 to 2021, the report said.

GMSL rose by 2.1 mm per year between 1993 and 2002, with the increase between the two time periods “mostly due to the accelerated loss of ice mass from the ice sheets”, it said.


Ocean heat hit a record high last year, exceeding the 2020 value, the report said.

And it is expected that the upper 2,000m of the ocean will continue to warm in the future – “a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial timescales”, said the WMO, adding that the warmth was penetrating to ever deeper levels.

The ocean absorbs around 23 per cent of the annual emissions of human-caused CO2 into the atmosphere. While this slows the rise of atmospheric CO2 concentrations, CO2 reacts with seawater and leads to ocean acidification.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded with “very high confidence” that open ocean surface acidity is at the highest “for at least 26,000 years”.

Meanwhile the report said the Antarctic ozone hole reached an “unusually deep and large” maximum area of 24.8 million sq km in 2021, driven by a strong and stable polar vortex.

Guterres proposed five actions to jump-start the transition to renewable energy “before it’s too late”.

Among them, he suggested ending fossil fuel subsidies, tripling investments in renewable energy and making renewable energy technologies, such as battery storage, freely-available global public goods.

“If we act together, the renewable energy transformation can be the peace project of the 21st century,” Guterres said.

Climate change affects Asia disproportionately; S’pore facing high risks but prepared to combat it: Report

Asia will be disproportionately hit, with Singapore facing serious challenges from rising sea levels and heat stress. Image: ST Photo/Kua Chee Siong

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Climate change and the transition to carbon neutrality pose both risks and opportunities for businesses and countries, noted a report produced by Tsinghua University for Singapore investment firm Temasek.

It added that Asia will be disproportionately hit, with Singapore facing serious challenges from rising sea levels and heat stress, even losing 46 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the worst scenario.

But Singapore is also prepared to tackle these effects, noted the report, which was produced by the Centre for Green Finance Research in the National Institute of Financial Research of Tsinghua University and released on Wednesday (April 20) at the Ecosperity Conversations organised by Temasek.

The conversations are a series of year-round dialogues on sustainability topics and megatrends.

Temasek head of risk management Robert Mainprize said: “The transition to a carbon-neutral world presents tremendous opportunities for businesses.

“To achieve sustainable returns over the long term, businesses need to model and mitigate the risks associated with climate change. Climate risk analysis can help businesses identify and quantify emerging risks and opportunities early.”

This is especially vital in Singapore and the region, as the report shows how Asian countries are more vulnerable to natural disasters induced by climate change.

According to a rating in the report, six of the 10 most climate-vulnerable countries are in South and South-east Asia – Myanmar, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand and Nepal.

It also noted that Asia’s GDP may shrink 26.5 per cent by 2048 if no action on climate change is taken, compared with a 18.1 per cent reduction of the global economy under the same scenario.

Under the most severe scenario, which sees a 3.2 deg C rise in temperature and the most extreme physical outcomes, the collective Asean GDP will shrink about 37 per cent by 2048.

“An island nation, Singapore faces high risks through several channels of impact, including rising sea level, heat stress and reduced tourism revenue,” the report said.

“It could lose 46.4 per cent of its GDP in the worst scenario.

“However, it has demonstrated resilience by preparing to combat the adverse impact of climate change.”

It noted that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has taken steps, such as releasing the guidelines of environmental risk management for banks, insurers and asset managers in December 2020.

These guidelines help prepare financial institutions for environmental risks and strengthening the sector’s expertise in sustainability.

The MAS is also accelerating its climate information disclosures, the report added, with a task force that issued a detailed implementation guide last year for such disclosures by financial institutions.

But even in the transition to a low-carbon economy, Asian countries face both risks and opportunities, the report said.

“Governments in Asian countries have already started to implement carbon-mitigation measures, including increasing the costs of carbon emissions and adopting renewable energy technologies. This will, in turn, affect the operations of related industries and companies,” it noted.

But the increasing investments in energy as the world pursues its net-zero carbon targets will also add to global GDP growth, it said.

Such spending in countries can also create jobs in clean-energy generation and energy efficiency development, driving growth in engineering, manufacturing and construction. These investments will lift global GDP growth by 4 per cent in 2030, it added.

But it also acknowledged that there are still issues that have to be grappled with at present, as businesses may not fully understand how their operations and profits may be affected by the transitions due to limited expertise and exposure. The capabilities of Asian central banks to manage climate risks also remain nascent.

“A mismatch between the long-term nature of climate risks and businesses’ preferences for short-term profits further weakens the motivation for significant initial investments,” it added.

There is also a data gap as most companies that are starting to account for climate risks do not have sufficient high-quality data, it said.

Still, steps have been taken, with the awareness in the region growing in the last few years, experts said during a panel discussion at the Ecosperity Conversations.

Ms Karen Tan, Swiss Re managing director and head of life and health products for Asia, said: “In the last three or four years, I think that the awareness and the action here in the region has definitely increased. We see a lot of push and a lot of very concerted action from regulators and the governments.”

She added that as an insurer, an important part is also not just pricing in the risks for companies, but taking the opportunity to have discussions on best practices to mitigate them while engaging in new transitional technologies.

Temasek’s Mr Mainprize also said that engagement goes a long way: “The critical thing is to actually sit down and talk to the management companies that we tend to invest in.

“Good management teams will understand the risks… that’s a very good indication that you’re going to get a good outcome as an investor. If they’re not aware of those risks and (don’t) have a good plan to gauge the change, then that’s a clear red flag for us.”

The report’s lead author, Dr Sun Tianyin from Tsinghua University, was also on the panel, which was moderated by Mr Dominic Chan, Temasek assistant vice-president of environmental, social and governance investment management.

Author: Sue-Anne Tan

World will need 5.2TW of solar this decade to avoid climate breakdown

Irena director-general Francesco La Camera didn’t pull any punches in his introduction to the report. Image: IRENA

The International Renewable Energy Agency’s latest global outlook has spelled out just how ‘woefully’ far the world is from capping temperature rises at 1.5C, and lamented: ‘The stimulus and recovery efforts associated with the pandemic have also proved a missed opportunity.’

From pv magazine

The world will need 5.2TW of solar power generation capacity by 2030, and 14TW by mid century, to have any chance of limiting global average temperature rises this century to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) said today.

The Abu Dhabi-based international body launched the latest edition of its World Energy Transitions Outlook report at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue event and director-general Francesco La Camera, writing the foreword, spelled out: “Progress across all energy uses has been woefully inadequate.”

The world will have to install 450GW of new solar capacity each year – most of it utility scale – for the rest of this decade, with China and India to lead Asia to a roughly half share of the world’s installed PV capacity in 2030, the report’s authors estimated.

What is needed

Elsewhere, North America will need to install 90GW per year of solar to claim a 14% share of the world’s operating panels at the end of the decade, and Europe’s 19% slice of the pie will require 55GW of annual solar capacity additions.

European funding will also help North Africa make its contribution to the 70GW of annual solar capacity additions which will be required across the Middle East and Africa with European energy demand ensuring grid connections with North Africa flourish.

To have a hope of avoiding the worst effects of climate change, Latin America will need 20GW of new solar annually this decade and a further “more than 2GW” will be needed each year across the Oceania and Pacific region, the Irena report estimated.

Of course, it is not just solar that the world needs and, with the 348-page report calling for massive electrification and energy efficiency efforts, enabled by the full suite of clean energy sources, hydrogen, and biomass, we will have to start devoting $5.7 trillion per year to the energy transition for the rest of the decade, according to Irena.

That can be feasible if the $700 billion per year channeled into fossil fuels is immediately diverted to the transition, the publication stated. Public investment in the transition will have to immediately double, too, said Irena, to attract the remaining money needed from the private sector, which would bear most of the financial burden.


In return for the investment sought – including to ensure there are 147 million electric vehicles (EVs) per year hitting the roads in 2050, that $131 billion is invested annually in EV charging by that point, and that 350GW of green hydrogen electrolyzers are operating as early as 2030 – the world can anticipate a jobs dividend.

Irena has estimated the 12 million job losses it anticipates in the fossil fuel and nuclear industries will be comfortably outweighed by “close to” 85 million new energy-transition roles this decade, including 26.5 million in clean energy.

It is all a matter of political will, Irena pointed out, with policymakers also needing to usher in sufficient international grid connections and flexibility; training; utility scale batteries; electricity demand-side management; digital tools; peer-to-peer power trading; community ownership of renewables; time-of-use energy tariffs; and net billing systems.

Author: Max Hall

South-east Asia among regions hardest hit by climate change, must prioritise adaptation: IPCC

Cars partially submerged during a flood in Shah Alam, Selangor on Dec 21, 2021. Source: SFP

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – South-east Asia is among the regions of the world hardest hit by climate change, and is especially at risk of losing settlements and infrastructure to sea-level rise, a major new report published on Monday (Feb 28) has shown.

“With ongoing global warming, today’s children in South and South-east Asia will witness increased losses in coastal settlements and infrastructure due to flooding caused by unavoidable sea-level rise, with very high losses in East Asian cities,” said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

The report also concluded that if global warming exceeds 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial times, the impacts of climate change could be more severe, and some will be irreversible.

“Risks for society will increase, including to infrastructure and low-lying coastal settlements,” said the IPCC report.

But limiting global warming to the 1.5 deg C threshold will help the world avoid harsher climate impact, scientists say.

Sea-level rise expert Benjamin Horton from the Nanyang Technological University’s Earth Observatory of Singapore said the greatest effects of sea-level rise will be felt in Asia, due to the number of people living in the continent’s low-lying areas.

For example, mainland China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand are home to the most people on land that is projected to be below average annual coastal flood levels by 2050, Professor Horton said.

“Together, those six nations account for roughly 75 per cent of the 300 million people on land facing the same vulnerability at mid-century,” he added.

The IPCC report also found that risks to coastal cities and settlements are projected to increase by “at least one order of magnitude” by 2100, if there are no significant plans to deal with the crisis.

Sea-level rise is not the only threat confronting South-east Asia.

Climate scientist Winston Chow from the Singapore Management University, one of the authors involved in the IPCC report, said Asean has already been exposed to many climate change-related impacts, such as floods, droughts, urban heat as well as biodiversity and habitat losses.

“These current impacts are projected to worsen in the future, especially when global surface temperatures exceed the 1.5 deg C threshold,” said Dr Chow.

The world has already warmed by 1.1 deg C since pre-industrial times.

Coral microatolls on Mapur island, Indonesia, can provide a good gauge of Singapore’s sea-level history over the past century. Source: JEDRZEJ MAJEWSKI

At this level of warming, some climate impacts are already locked in and considered close to irreversible in some natural ecosystems, such as the long-term decline of coral reefs in the South China Sea, said Dr Chow.

He added that a warmer Earth could mean that parts of Asean dependent on water from glacial melt – such as cities along the upper Mekong – will likely have reduced freshwater resources, due to the loss of ice there.

Crop yield could also be reduced if the world gets warmer, and other climate-driven events such as floods, droughts and tropical cyclones could further affect yield,” said Dr Chow.

If cities and countries want to reduce such climate risks, then adaptation is essential to minimise future loss and damages, he added.

Adaptation refers to measures that countries can take to reduce the impacts of climate-driven events on societies, while loss and damage is a term used in climate change discussions that refers to climate impacts that societies are currently suffering which cannot be, or have not been, reduced by adaptation efforts.

For sea-level rise, for example, adaptation measures could include building sea walls or restoring mangroves, since these ecosystems have tangled root systems that can keep pace with sea-level rise to an extent.

Or to reduce flooding in urban areas, an adaptation strategy could include having land-use planning policies that discourage buildings in areas exposed to floods or cyclones, said Dr Chow.

But the latest IPCC report – which focuses on the impacts of climate change on human societies – had identified large gaps between adaptation action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks.

These gaps are largest among lower-income populations, it said.

In Asia, obstacles to greater climate adaptation include fragmented, reactive governance, lack of finances, and inadequate evidence on which actions to prioritise and how to sequence them, said the IPCC.

A resident drying clothes in Bais city, days after Super Typhoon Rai hit the southern and central regions of the Philippines, on Dec 21, 2021. Source: AFP

Dr Chow pointed to how unplanned development still occurs in parts of urban Thailand and the Philippines along its rapidly urbanising coastlines. This increases the risks of loss and damages to vulnerable populations, he said.

Despite the challenges, the IPCC said that early adaptation is crucial to help vulnerable communities cope with climate impacts.

This is because with every degree of warming, climate change impacts get more severe, while the effectiveness of available adaptation options decreases, it said.

The focus on adaptation in the latest IPCC report adds to global discussions on the issue.

A report published by the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme in November last year found that while there is an increasing number of plans for climate change adaptation, financing and implementation of these initiatives are still lagging.

That report also estimated that adaptation costs in developing countries are five to 10 times greater than public funds currently available for the programmes.

Adaptation financing was also a key point of contention between countries during the annual UN climate change meetings, with developing nations calling on richer countries to provide more funding to help them implement climate adaptation plans.

But the IPCC stressed in its latest report that to reduce impacts of climate change on societies, adaptation must go hand in hand with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of the crisis.

“Successful adaptation requires urgent, more ambitious and accelerated action and, at the same time, rapid and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The quicker and farther emissions fall, the more scope there is for people and nature to adapt,” said the report.

Author: Cheryl Tan