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Southeast Asia

A worker speaks as he loads coal on a truck at a depot near a coal mine from the state-owned Longmay Group on the outskirts of Jixi, in Heilongjiang province, China (October 24, 2015). Image Credit: REUTERS/Jason Lee

Asia’s sudden shift away from coal and toward renewable energy will have a global impact.

The sudden shift, years ahead of schedule, from coal toward renewables is remaking Asia’s energy economy – with repercussions to be felt across the world. The present – and future – does not look good for what, only a few years ago, seemed like a sure long-term bet: Coal.

“Solar is competing head to head with coal in India and winning… and in China coal use is declining, the solar market is booming. These are not temporary anomalies but rather seismic shifts,” said Nicole Ghio, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s International Climate and Energy Campaign.

If Asia’s developing countries can grow using less coal and more clean energy, it gives hope not only to the global climate, but could herald a new era of development in the region at the heart of the global economy.

Read more: Asia and the Fall of Coal

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Despite multilateral regional cooperation on marine protection, there is no overarching regional convention or institution governing the management of shared marine environment. FILE PIC

MARINE environmental protection and management is an important aspect of climate change adaptation. Coastal and marine habitats, especially coral reefs and wetlands, are bastions against waves, erosion and flooding that are predicted to get more frequent and intensified.

Read more: The case of South China Sea

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Satellite data shows that temperatures in April 2016 soared to as much as 6-7 degrees Celsius (about 11-13 degrees Fahrenheit) higher on Southeast Asia's mainland than the average April temperature of the region during 2000-2006. Credit: Kaustubh ThirumalaiScientists at The University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) have found that a devastating combination of global warming and El Niño is responsible for causing extreme temperatures in April 2016 in Southeast Asia.

The research, published on June 6 in the journal Nature Communications, shows that El Niño triggered the heat, causing about half of the warming, while global warming caused one-third and raised the heat into record-breaking territories, according to the team's analysis. El Niño is a climate pattern that impacts the tropical Pacific, and usually brings warmer temperatures to Southeast Asia in April.

In April 2016, high temperatures in mainland Southeast Asia broke all previous records, exacerbating energy consumption, disrupting crop production and causing severe human discomfort in Cambodia, Thailand and other countries in the region. The especially high temperatures of 2016 made the researchers interested in investigating the factors behind such extreme heat, including the impact of the record-breaking El Niño of 2015 and whether ongoing global warming played a significant role in the event.

The researchers used computer model simulations designed to disentangle the natural and human-made causes of the extreme heat. They also used observations from land and ocean monitoring systems and found that long-term warming has played an increasing role in rising April temperatures in Southeast Asia. Since 1980, this trend has caused a new temperature record each April following an El Niño.

"The El Niño system primes mainland Southeast Asia for extremes, although long-term warming is undoubtedly exacerbating these hot Aprils," said UTIG postdoctoral fellow Kaustubh Thirumalai, who led the study. UTIG is a research unit of the UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.

Read more: El Niño and global warming combine to cause record-breaking heat in Southeast Asia

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