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Hong Kong Marks Hottest April in 140-Year Record

Hong Kong experienced its hottest April on record last month, with the city's weather observatory reporting an average temperature of 26.4 degrees Celsius, the highest in 140 years of meteorological records. This milestone underscores the accelerating impact of climate change, as temperatures continue to rise globally.

The observatory highlighted the unprecedented warmth on social media, noting that April's scorching temperatures arrived even before the onset of summer. This trend of record-breaking heat aligns with recent years' patterns, where Hong Kong has consistently set new highs in both daily and monthly temperature records since 2019.

On April 27, the city saw further temperature records shattered, with the daily average reaching 28.8 degrees Celsius, alongside a record-high daily low of 27.7 degrees Celsius. This stark contrast to temperature averages observed between 1991 and 2020, which ranged from 21.1 to 25.6 degrees Celsius, underscores the rapidity of warming trends in the region.

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The observatory attributes this record warmth to an "exceptionally warm" winter preceding April and a "much warmer than usual" March. Moreover, forecasts predict above-normal temperatures to persist throughout 2024, signaling a continuation of the trend unless significant mitigation efforts are undertaken.

In response to the escalating heat, Hong Kong's labour department recently revised its heat stress warning system, now aligning it with the observatory's hot weather alerts. The update includes doubling the minimum duration of heat advisories from 30 minutes to one hour and mandates rest periods or work suspension based on temperature thresholds and job types.

However, concerns persist regarding the absence of legal protections for workers against heat-related illnesses. Despite reports of individuals succumbing to heatstroke while working in sweltering conditions, Hong Kong's laws do not recognize heatstroke as a work-related injury.

Critics argue that the heat stress warning system, introduced last year, fails to adequately protect workers, citing its high threshold for issuing warnings and the lack of legal accountability for non-compliant employers.

Internationally, scientists continue to emphasize the link between human-induced climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme heat events. Hong Kong's record-breaking April serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for concerted global action to mitigate the impacts of climate change and safeguard vulnerable communities from its consequences.

May 2, 2024 4:40 p.m. 3933

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