Heat stress may lead to more than $1.5 billion in economic losses for Singapore

Rising Heat Stress in Singapore: Economic Losses and Impacts on Productivity and Health

A recent study by the National University of Singapore found that Singapore’s economic losses due to heat stress are projected to nearly double to $1.64 billion in 2035 from pre-pandemic levels of 2018. This increase is attributed to a decline in labor productivity across various sectors like services, construction, manufacturing, and agriculture. In 2018, heat strain had already caused an 11.3% drop in average productivity, and this is expected to worsen in the coming years.

According to the NUS Project HeatSafe report, the fall in productivity is estimated to rise to 14% by 2035, resulting in economic losses of S$2.22 billion ($1.64 billion) after adjusting for inflation. Workers who are exposed to adverse environmental conditions such as direct sun exposure or heat from machinery will face significantly higher productivity losses. The study also highlighted that for every hot day, workers’ productivity during working hours is reduced, leading to a median income loss of S$21 per worker.

Singapore is facing faster warming rates compared to global averages with UV index levels reaching “extreme” levels recently. This intense heat is not unique to Singapore as scientists have warned about surpassing key warming thresholds globally. The United Nations Secretary-General has also raised concerns about moving towards “an era of global boiling” due to increasing temperatures worldwide.

In addition to affecting cognitive and physical abilities, extreme heat exposure poses a risk to Singapore’s already low fertility rates. The NUS research emphasizes the urgent need for adaptation and mitigation strategies to address the challenges posed by rising heat levels and their impact on various aspects of society.

Project HeatSafe is the first large-scale study in Singapore and the region aimed at evaluating the impact of rising heat levels on both productivity and health at both individual and macroeconomic levels.

The research team used 2018 as the baseline for the study as it was pre-pandemic and was the most recent “normal year” for which data was available.

The NUS Project HeatSafe report highlights that workers who work outdoors or those whose jobs require manual labor are at higher risk of being affected by extreme heat conditions.

To mitigate these risks, companies can implement measures such as providing shade or cooling systems for workers during outdoor activities or rotating shifts so that workers do not work consecutive days under extreme temperatures.

Furthermore, policymakers can implement policies such as reducing working hours during peak temperature periods or providing incentives for companies that adopt sustainable practices that reduce carbon emissions.

Overall, addressing climate change requires a collaborative effort from governments, businesses

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