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Hong Kong faces extreme heat challenge

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Hong Kong must continue strengthening its resilience towards extreme weather events, including severe heat, which are increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change, a new report finds.

Over the last 100 years, the annual number of hot nights in Hong Kong has increased 35 times, the new report, which is the second in a global series from law firm Clyde & Co, says.

Rising sea surface temperatures are expected to intensify the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones, with the report finding super typhoons were more common now than before.

“Hong Kong may consider creating an official post to co-ordinate efforts across the public and private sectors in order to better respond to climate-related disastrous events,” the report says.

Many cities including Singapore, Melaka, Chennai and Jakarta, have a chief resilience officer, it notes.

Simon McConnell, Hong Kong Managing Partner at Clyde & Co, says Hong Kong is more proactive than many cities, with major policies to counter global warming. There are ambitious plans under way in the Greater Bay Area to curb air pollution and waste, as well as fostering low carbon initiatives, environmental technology and green buildings.

About 70% of Hong Kong’s carbon emissions come from electricity generation but a shift towards natural gas is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by a fifth. Measures have also been taken to regulate emissions by marine vessels in Hong Kong.

"Contrary to what is often claimed, China is taking significant and material steps towards greater sustainability," Mr McConnell said. "Resilience to climate change in Hong Kong will be critical for insurers, banks and property owners, who all have an incentive to mitigate future losses arising from climate change.”