The adverse impact of climate change-associated extreme weather events is becoming more significant globally, particularly the flood impact on coastal and low-lying areas such as the Pearl River Delta (PRD).

Worldwide, flooding is a major natural disaster affecting many communities throughout history. Globally, flooding killed about 100,000 persons and affected over several million people each year in the last decade of the twentieth century. In terms of economic losses, floods are the number one natural disaster, accounting for over one-third of the total estimated cost of all the natural disasters combined. In coastal areas, floods can be more harmful because the average population densities in coastal areas are around three times higher than the global average. In addition, coastal areas are highly vulnerable to sea level rise (SLR) caused by climate change. Furthermore, climate change causes a predictable increase in atmospheric cyclonic events (e.g., typhoons), increasing the probability of storm surges and coastal flooding.

2017 and 2018 marked two special years for extreme climate events – with unprecedented monsoon rains and floods, cyclones and hurricanes hitting many parts of the world, causing many fatalities, injuries and destruction of property. In 2017, Hong Kong and South China experienced severe typhoons, three of which hit in the space of a week – with one causing serious disruptions to Macao.

Related RESEARCH & Activities

Climate Adaptation Policies

The Climate Adaptation and Resilience (CARe2018) Hong Kong Conference held on 27-29 Oct 2018 brought together a wide range of experts and stakeholders from across the globe, across industry and business sectors, as well as from local and regional authorities to learn and examine what it would take to make cities and regions much more climate resilient. The conference showcased policies and practices that promote infrastructure investments that would bring about greater resilience to strengthen cities and regions; as well as good practices for public sector officers and communities to learn and reorganize to face climate change challenges.

Human Damage Assessment Framework

Damage assessments of regional natural disasters can aid policymakers and urban planners in formulating long-term strategies for disaster response and help local communities to understand and take necessary steps to alleviate the hazards. While regional extreme weather damage projections are generally difficult, IENV recently proposed a new framework to assess future climate change related regional/local natural hazard risk based on global historical data. Such framework is useful to evaluate future risks of SLR and storm surge in Hong Kong and the PRD region on flood-associated human,

International Climate Framework

The Conference of the Parties (COP) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - the supreme decision-making body of the Convention - reached the landmark Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emission mitigation, adaptation and finance in December 2015 - for the first time bringing all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts. HKUST IENV has been following closely the global climate policy trend as well as the latest climate science findings - particularly from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and facilitating informed discussions on relating such a high-level framework to Hong Kong's key decision-making process.