Black rain: Hong Kong and climate change

Feature Story - 2009-06-19
Last June Hong Kong was hit by its heaviest rain on record. The Hong Kong Observatory issued a black rainstorm warning, and on June 7 some 145.5 mm of rain fell in one hour. The region had never seen anything like it.

The Climate Change Bill - Economic Costs of Heavy Rainstorm in Hong Kong

For Yip Chi Ming, the storm came as a complete surprise.

His family including his elderly mother and two children had to escape out of window in his attic and across a neighbour's roof to escape the flood waters.

"The rainstorm on 7 June last year was so intense and everything happened so quickly," he told Greenpeace China.

"At 8:15am, as water rose to our doorstep, I started packing up belongings near it. But within 15 minutes, water began gushing in below the door, and very quickly the door was knocked down and the house flooded by water around five feet deep. The ground floor - living room, dining room, kitchen etc - was completely flooded, we lost all the furniture and electric appliances. We lost around HK$100,000."

Black Rain in Hong Kong: the cost of climate change from Greenpeace China on Vimeo.

Heavy rainstorms will become more common

Climate scientists tell us that these kinds of damaging freak weather events are getting more common and more intense because of climate change.

Greenpeace China is campaigning for the Hong Kong government to make an urgent climate change policy.

We thought we would calculate how much climate change is going to cost us in the future if we don't do something about it now to stop it to help convince polticians that urgent action is crucial.

We found that the storm cost an estimated HK$578 million, or US$74 million.

This figure includes losses from landslides, flooding, flight disruptions, property damage and loss of business hours.

We also released a recent report with Oxfam showing how climate change is making China's poor poorer.

Our Hong Kong climate demands

In December 2009, crucial UN climate negotiations will culminate in the UN Climate Summit, in Copenhagen, Denmark, where world leaders must agree a deal to save the climate.

Greenpeace demands Donald Tsang attends the Copenhagen meetings and commits to a timetable for delivery of a climate change policy to reduce Hong Kong's greenhouse gas emissions by between 25% and 40% by 2020, and 80% by 2050, both using 1990 emissions levels as the baseline.

Check out our Countdown to Copenhagen special section.

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