Asia Endures Record-Breaking Heatwaves Due To Climate Change

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Asia Endures Record-Breaking Heatwaves Due To Climate Change

Severe heatwaves and unprecedented temperatures swept across many parts of Asia in April and May this year. The region endured temperatures exceeding 40C for extended periods, leading to tragic consequences. Heatstroke claimed many lives. The suffocating heat has also led to school closures, disrupting the education of children, who struggled to perform under the stress-inducing heat.

The toll of these heat waves is not limited to human lives. In countries like India, Bangladesh, Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia, where hundreds of heatwave-related deaths have been reported, the agricultural sector, a lifeline for many in these regions, has been severely hit. Crops have suffered extensive damage, leading to a significant reduction in yield.

Scientists from the World Weather Attribution collaborated to assess to what extent climate change influenced the extreme heat in three Asian regions – West Asia (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel), East Asia (Philippines), and South and Southeast Asia (India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia). They looked specifically at the intensity of the 3-day April heatwave in West Asia, a 15-day April heatwave in the Philippines, and mean temperatures for April 2024.

Their finding is similar to their previous analysis of the two previous heat waves in 2022 and 2023, where they found that not only human-induced climate change influenced these events but also made them 30 times more likely and much hotter.

This year, scientists found that climate change played a role in the April heatwave events in all three regions of Asia, and its effect was the same in magnitude as the heatwaves studied in 2022 and 2023.

The WWA analysis also states that the current global warming of 1.2°C compared to pre-industrial times makes this heatwave event very likely.

“In West Asia, the chance of it occurring in any given year is around 10% – or once every ten years. In the Philippines, the chance of such an event happening in any given year is also around 10% – or once every ten years under the current El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions, and a 1-in-20 year event, overall, without the influence of El Niño. In the larger South Asia region, an extremely warm April such as this one is a somewhat rarer event, with a 3% probability of happening in a given year – or once every 30 years” (Climate change made, 2024).

In the Philippines, scientists note that the heatwave would have been impossible without human-caused climate change, based on their observations and climate models. However, the current El Niño made the heatwave about 0.2°C hotter, and as global temperatures reach 2°C, the likelihood of extreme heat would increase further—twice as hot in West Asia and five times hotter in the Philippines.

The WWA concludes that recurrent heat waves and their impacts are becoming a severe hazard. Many countries have prepared action plans to deal with them and provide immediate relief to their citizens.

Learn more about the World Weather Attribution’s 2024 heatwave analysis.

Scientists think the world will breach the Paris Agreement pledge

The Guardian surveyed the authors of the authoritative UN Climate Change report series, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The result shows that 80% of the world’s leading climate scientists expect global temperatures to reach 2.5°C above the pre-industrial period this century. This warming far exceeds the 1.5°C warming limit pledged by parties under the Paris Agreement. Half of the respondents also anticipate that temperatures could get to 3°C.

They believe reaching the global warming of 2.5°C and above will see a “semi-dystopian” future, where not seen before famines, conflicts, and mass migration, driven by heatwaves, wildfires, floods, and storms will become the norm (Carrington, 2024).

Scientists have agreed to set a global warming target of 1.5°C to avoid many of the deadliest effects of climate change. Since this target was established in the Paris Agreement in 2015, a treaty in which 195 nations pledged to tackle climate change, it has become an important guiding star for international negotiations. However, current climate policies put the world on track for about 2.7°C.

The world breached the 1.5°C warming limit

Respondents also noted that breaching 1.5°C will not suddenly make the world dangerous and will not be ‘game over’ if we pass 2°C (Carrington, 2024). We are already experiencing 1.5°C warming compared to pre-industrial levels. In February 2024, the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service confirmed that the 1.5°C global warming threshold had been breached for 12 months for the first time. From February 2023 to January 2024, the average temperatures reached 1.52°C, above the pre-industrial average of 1850-1900. (Copernicus, 2024).

The effects of climate change, with the current 1.2°C average global heating in the past four years, are already causing havoc and distress to people’s lives. Jesse Keenan from Tulane University in the US said, “This is just the beginning: buckle up” (Carrington, 2024).

Experts say that preparation for the worst effects of climate change is now becoming critical. The impacts of climate change will continue to accelerate with every degree of warming, and the recent extreme events—heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, and floods—in the last 12 months have given us a preview of what is to come. Actions to address it should start with the most vulnerable and poor communities and countries.


Climate change made the deadly heatwaves that hit millions of highly vulnerable people across Asia more frequent and extreme. (2024, May 14). World Weather Attribution. Retrieved from

Carrington, D. (2024, May 8). World’s top climate scientists expect global heating to blast past 1.5C target. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Copernicus: In 2024, the world experienced the warmest January on record. (2024, February 8). Copernicus. Retrieved from

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