Unprecedented heat waves set to cost Singapore’s economy billions in lost productivity by 2035, study warns

Singapore’s economy may face losses exceeding $1.5 billion due to heat strain

In recent years, Singapore has been grappling with the effects of extreme heat, and a new study by the National University of Singapore has shed light on the economic impact of this phenomenon. The research shows that Singapore’s economic losses due to heat stress could nearly double to $1.64 billion in 2035 from pre-pandemic 2018.

Workers exposed to adverse environmental conditions, such as those working under the sun or near heat sources like machineries, will experience even higher productivity losses. The study estimated that for every hot day, the reduced productivity of workers results in a median income loss of S$21 per worker.

The study, called Project HeatSafe, is the first large-scale assessment of the impact of rising heat levels on productivity and health on both individual and macroeconomic levels in Singapore and the region. Taking 2018 as the baseline for the study, the research team chose this year as it was pre-pandemic and the last “normal year” for which data was available.

Singapore is not alone in facing intense heat, as scientists have warned of surpassing key warming thresholds globally. The impact of extreme heat exposure goes beyond productivity, affecting cognitive capacity, physical exertion, and even fertility rates in Singapore, which are already at historic lows.

In addition to these direct impacts on individuals and businesses, extreme heat also poses a significant threat to public health systems worldwide. Governments must take action now to mitigate these risks and ensure a sustainable future for all communities facing these challenges.

Overall, this study highlights the need for urgent action to address climate change and its impacts on human health and well-being. As global temperatures continue to rise at an unprecedented rate, it is more important than ever for policymakers to prioritize strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote resilience in vulnerable communities around the world.

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