Hong Kong is set to experience another sweltering week, with the Very Hot Weather Warning in force for the 12th day in a row. It is the fourth-longest period that the warning signal has been hoisted, with experts warning that the blistering heat is connected to the climate crisis.
Temperatures soared above 35 degrees Celsius over the past few days, as the city recorded at least three heat-related deaths. Sunday became the hottest July day in 138 years, with a record-high temperature of 36.1 degree Celsius, whilst some areas such as Sheung Shui topped 39 degrees Celsius, according to Observatory data.
A green group warned the hot weather is not a one-off summer phenomenon, adding that Hong Kong is poised to break more weather records.
“We can see that there’s a trend that Hong Kong is getting hotter and hotter, just like rest of the world,” said Tom Ng, a climate campaigner from Greenpeace.
The Very Hot Weather Warning has been in force since July 15. The longest period that it has been in force was 20 days last July.
Ng said he expected the record could be met or exceeded in the coming week or two. Other indicators – such as the number of hot days or hot nights – will also see records smashed, Ng warned.
“Hot days” denote a daily maximum temperature above 33 degrees Celsius, while “hot nights” have a daily minimum temperature above 28 degree Celsius, according to the Hong Kong Observatory.
“These hot days or hot nights, and all these extreme heat days [are] affecting Hongkongers in many ways… It will increase the number of people [who] go to hospital or death rate,” Ng said, citing a study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He added that five consecutive hot nights increase the death rate by 6.66 per cent, with women and elderly being impacted the most.
At least three people died from suspected heat stroke-related incidents over the weekend.
According to local media, a man in his 50s fainted while hiking near the Sharp Peak in Sai Kung on Saturday – he was air-lifted to the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital but died later. On Sunday, a female hiker was found lying unconscious near Kai Kung Leng in Pat Heung, Yuen Long. The 33-year-old, who was reportedly a foreign domestic worker, was confirmed dead when the Government Flying Service arrived.
Meanwhile, a 60-year-old man who went hiking with his son was found dead on Lantau Island on Sunday. Sing Tao reported that the pair were heading to Sunset Peak on Saturday but the father stopped to rest whilst his 14-year-old son continued alone. Other hikers spotted the teen the next morning and called the police. Authorities later found the father’s body.
On Monday, Hong Kong recorded temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius in several regions – 36.5 degrees Celsius in Tai Mei Tuk, 36.1 degrees Celsius in Sheung Shui, and 35.5 degrees Celsius in Kowloon City.
Climate crisis expert Xiaoming Shi from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology said the hot weather was “certainly related to global warming,” as scientific data showed that there were more frequent heat waves during the past decade in Hong Kong. Also, the seasons during which heat waves have occurred have lengthened.
He said professionals and meteorologists were well-aware of the climate crisis, but that may not be the case among the general public.
“I think there is a lack of awareness on the connection between what [is] happening now and the trend of global warming. Because, actually, global warming is a slow process and people are not very intuitive to connect our daily weather to the changes, the trend [that] will happen in the next few decades that makes things worse,” Shi told HKFP.
When asked if Hong Kong was doing enough to help alleviate the climate crisis, campaigner Ng said the government should be more aggressive with their environmental policies. He cited the transportation sector as an example, saying commercial cars were the major contributor to roadside green house gas emissions, but the government tackled the wrong part of the problem.
He said authorities encouraged private cars owners to go green by switching to electric cars but “the government has no roadmap for those commercial cars.”
Shi, meanwhile, said he hoped the government would form better “adaptation” policies such as subsidies for lower-income families to install air-conditioners.
When Chief Executive John Lee ran for office, his manifesto made no mention of environmental policy or measures, but the authorities said it did not mean that the government does not care about the issue.
The government has opened 18 temporary night heat shelters for those in need. They are open from 10.30 p.m. until 8 a.m. across Hong Kong Island, the New Territories and Kowloon.
Locations of night heat shelters – click to view.
Hong Kong Districts:
Central and Western –
Sai Ying Pun Community Complex Community Hall
3/F, Sai Ying Pun Community Complex
2 High Street, Sai Ying Pun
Causeway Bay Community Centre
3/F, 7 Fook Yum Road, Causeway Bay
Wah Kwai Community Centre
Wah Kwai Estate, Kellett Bay
Wan Chai –
Wan Chai Activities Centre
LG/F, Wan Chai Market, 258 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
Kowloon City –
Hung Hom Community Hall
1/F, Kowloon City Government Offices
42 Bailey Street, Hung Hom
Kwun Tong –
Lam Tin (West) Estate Community Centre
71 Kai Tin Road, Lam Tin
Sham Shui Po –
Shek Kip Mei Community Hall
G/F, Block 42, Shek Kip Mei Estate, Sham Shui Po
Wong Tai Sin –
Tsz Wan Shan (South) Estate Community Centre
45 Wan Wah Street, Tsz Wan Shan
Yau Tsim Mong –
Henry G Leong Yaumatei Community Centre
60 Public Square Street, Yau Ma Tei
New Territories Districts:
Tung Chung Community Hall
G/F, Tung Chung Municipal Services Building, 39 Man Tung Road, Tung Chung
Kwai Tsing –
Kwai Shing Community Hall
Podium, Block 6, Kwai Shing West Estate, Kwai Chung
Cheung Wah Community Hall
Cheung Wah Estate, Fanling
Sai Kung –
Chi Shin Activity Centre
G/F, Tseung Kwan O South Ancillary Facilities Block, 5 Chi Shin Street, Tseung Kwan O
Sha Tin –
Lung Hang Estate Community Centre
Lung Hang Estate, Sha Tin
Tai Po –
Tai Po Community Centre
2 Heung Sze Wui Street, Tai Po
Tsuen Wan –
Lei Muk Shue Community Hall
G/F, Hong Shue House, Lei Muk Shue Estate, Tsuen Wan
Tuen Mun –
Wu Shan Road Community Hall
101 Wu Shan Road, Tuen Mun
Yuen Long –
Long Ping Community Hall
Long Ping Estate, Yuen Long
Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.