Causes of extreme heat
2. CLIMATE CHANGE / GLOBAL WARMING
The Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C (published by the International Panel on Climate Change) sets out the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. The adverse effects resulting from climate change on Hong Kong, particularly extreme heat, will be further discussed in this report.
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION IN HONG KONG
The underlying cause of extreme heat is global warming caused by heat being trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere and thereby increasing the temperature. The primary greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming is carbon dioxide, which is emitted through plant and animal respiration as well as human activities like the burning of fossil fuels for power and emissions from shipping, aircrafts and motor vehicles. Human activities play the largest role in generating greenhouse gases. It is estimated that 1°C of global warming since the industrial revolution is attributable to human activities. 11 Scientists have noted that “severe heatwaves will become more frequent because of global warming.” 12 Attribution scientists have compared and analysed today’s climate with those of the natural climate and are of the opinion that intense heatwaves are more likely to occur as a result of climate change. 13
Greenhouse gas emissions in Hong Kong by sector, 2016 16
Since 1999, there has been a steady rise in Hong Kong’s greenhouse gas emissions across different sectors. The Legislative Council Secretariat noted that the greenhouse gas emissions increased by a total of 35% in 14 years to a record high of 45 million tonnes in 2014. 14 In Hong Kong, the major source of greenhouse gas emission is electricity generation. In 2016, electricity generation accounted for 66.5% of the total greenhouse gas emission in Hong Kong, 15 outweighing the next largest emission source (transport sector) by approximately 40%. Other sources such as waste treatment, industrial processes and product use, agriculture, forestry and other land use are also major contributors to the rising temperature and greenhouse gas emissions in Hong Kong.
Other End Use of fuel
41,900 total emissions, kilotonnes CO 2 -e
14 https://www.legco.gov.hk/research-publications/english/1617issh21-greenhouse-gas-emissions-of-hong- kong-20170314-e.pdf
11 Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C (published by the International Panel on Climate Change) 12 https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05849-9 13 https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/press-office/news/weather-and-climate/2018/2018-uk-summer-heatwave
15 https://www.climateready.gov.hk/files/pdf/HKGHG_Sectors_2016.pdf 16 https://www.climateready.gov.hk/files/pdf/HKGHG_Sectors_2016.pdf
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