Best of our wild blogs: 15 Nov 16

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore

Full of Crab, RUMblers bring Ubin mangroves to the city
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

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Move to save Singapore's endangered sea turtles

Audrey Tan, Straits Times AsiaOne 14 Nov 16;

The hawksbill turtle, which is considered critically endangered, is commonly found here in Singapore.

The gentle sea turtle has long fuelled the imagination, and Singaporeans flock to turtle sanctuaries elsewhere to catch sight of them.

But sea turtles also live and nest right here, unknown to many. Unfortunately, the two species of sea turtles most commonly found here - the hawksbill turtle and the green turtle - are considered critically endangered.

While there has been no formal population count, more is being done to study the elusive creatures.

The Straits Times has learnt that a Marine Turtle Working Group - comprising staff from the National Parks Board (NParks), academics from institutions such as the National University of Singapore, and interest groups and individuals - is being formalised.

Such collaborative work has been ongoing since 2006, but the formalisation of the working group will better tap the expertise of the group to look into a wider range of issues, such as the development of turtle hatchery procedures.

Earlier this year, HSBC Singapore donated $500,000 to build the country's first sea turtle hatchery, to be set up at the southern lagoon on Small Sisters' Island by the end of next year. It will form an integral part of Singapore's first marine park.

Experts in the working group will also continue to monitor beaches for egg-laying turtles and conduct research on turtle movements in waters here. There have been 10 reported turtle sightings at East Coast Park and Changi Beach since 2012.

It is possible that there have been more visits that were not observed or reported, said Dr Lena Chan, group director of NParks' National Biodiversity Centre.

"Hence, NParks felt it was timely to expand the current turtle management procedure, which focuses on reporting of incidents, to include a wider range of activities... in partnership with various academic and interest groups who have indicated interest in marine turtle issues."

Mr Stephen Beng, chairman of the marine conservation group of the Nature Society (Singapore) and a member of the working group, said sea turtles depend on many habitats - they nest on sandy beaches, forage for food in mangroves and seagrasses, and find shelter in coral reefs. All of these habitats can be found in Singapore.

He added: "As integral parts of the marine ecosystem, sea turtles are also useful indicators of the vitality of our overall marine environment.

"Singapore is also unique as our shores are more urbanised compared with our neighbours', and the working group will work on recommendations to balance maintaining shoreline integrity and biodiversity survival."

Science-backed strategies to conserve wildlife

Not much is known about the critically endangered sea turtles of Singapore. But a marine turtle working group hopes to change that with research.

At least nine groups are studying how to conserve local wildlife with science-backed strategies.

Animals such as pangolins, otters and both species of monkeys in Singapore - long-tailed macaques and Raffles' banded langurs - have already benefited.

The working group for the shy langur was set up in August to map out an action plan for the conservation of this species in the coming years.

In May, members of the otter working group leapt into action to rescue and rehabilitate a six-week-old smooth-coated otter pup which almost died when its family did not return for it.

Dr Lena Chan, group director of the National Parks Board's National Biodiversity Centre, said working groups focus on animals at most immediate risk of local extinction, as well as those associated with issues that affect a range of stakeholders.

She said: "Working groups for otters, macaques and pythons were formed to better understand and address issues such as human-wildlife interaction and conservation, to minimise negative impact on stakeholders while also achieving conservation aims."

For Ms Sabrina Jabbar of the macaque working group, a milestone was a "monkey-herding" process some members developed that kept animals away from homes in Bukit Timah and reduced instances of human-animal conflict. This involved a trained guard at a hot spot shooing monkeys from residential areas by tapping a stick or umbrella on the ground, or telling the monkeys to go away.

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In Singapore: Coral bleaching getting worse

Straits Times 12 Nov 16;

Rising temperatures have caused Singapore's underwater gardens to lose their colours earlier this year.

Preliminary assessments by scientists in Singapore have shown that coral bleaching this year is more severe than two other major bleaching events in 1998 and 2010, The Straits Times reported last month.

Corals depend on symbiotic algae, called zooxanthellae, for food. Bleaching occurs when abnormally high sea temperatures cause corals to expel the zooxanthellae living in them, turning them white.

In 2010, the bleaching event started in June and ended in September, said Dr Karenne Tun, director of the coastal and marine division at the National Parks Board's (NParks) National Biodiversity Centre. In 1998, it lasted from June to August, said coral expert Chou Loke Ming, an adjunct research professor at the National University of Singapore's Tropical Marine Science Institute.

This year, water temperatures began exceeding the bleaching threshold of 31.14 deg C from end-April.

The good news, however, is that some corals are starting to recover from what is the longest bleaching incident to hit Singapore so far.

Scientists observed last month that recovery from bleaching is still ongoing. They are hopeful that the remaining bleached corals will recover within one to two months, if the sea surface temperatures continue on their downward trend.

A bleaching event is considered to have ended when sea surface temperatures go back to normal.

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Singapore’s Reefs Surprisingly Resilient Dredging and land reclamation have destroyed Singapore’s reefs, but shallow areas have staged a strong comeback

Asian Scientist 14 Nov 16;

AsianScientist (Nov. 14, 2016) - Although Singapore’s reefs have suffered extensive damage over the last 27 years, they have proven to be more resilient than expected, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

In the past 200 years, Singapore has been transformed from a forest-covered island to a highly urbanized city-state of more than 5.4 million. Extensive coastal construction, dredge spillage and land reclamation have resulted in high sedimentation rates, turbidity and pollution, putting immense pressure on the surrounding coral reefs.

Analyzing surveys conducted between 1986 to 2012, researchers from the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore’s National Parks Board, the University of New South Wales and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science found that coral cover declined at all sites, particularly in the first decade.

In 1998, a major bleaching event occurred as the result of high water temperatures associated with an El Nino.

However, corals at shallower reef sites were remarkably resilient to this event, showing signs of recovery within a decade. By 2008 coral cover had increased to about 1993 levels.

“It is remarkable that diverse shallow coral communities can persist in such adverse conditions,” says study first author Dr. James Guest, formerly of UNSW and now at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology.

“Undoubtedly, Singapore’s reefs have suffered as a result of human activities, but the recovery of corals at shallow sites is really surprising given how impacted this environment is. It really shows how tough corals can be.”

However, the study also showed that corals at deeper sites were less resilient, with coral cover at these sites continuing to decline.

The lack of recovery at deeper sites may be due to low light levels or a lack of unsuitable substratum for new corals to settle and survive.

Reefs in Singapore appear to have undergone substantial bleaching again this year, which is likely to test whether the resilience to bleaching observed in previous decades is still present on these reefs.

The article can be found at: Guest et al. (2016) 27 Years of Benthic and Coral Community Dynamics on Turbid, Highly Urbanized Reefs Off Singapore.

Singapore’s coral reefs proving resilient in the face of challenges
Today Online 17 Nov 16;

SINGAPORE — The Republic’s coral reefs have proven to be more resilient than expected despite the impact from human activity such as dredging and warming sea waters, concluded an international group of researchers after analysing surveys of reefs conducted over nearly three decades.

In an article published in Scientific Research on Nov 8, the authors, which included scientists from the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, and the National Parks Board, reported that while coral cover has declined, reefs in shallower waters have recovered at a rapid rate, even after a major bleaching episode in 1998.

The data, which came from 15 sites south of the main island, found that coral cover at all sites between 1986 and 2012 declined by about 12 per cent at shallower depths of 3m to 4m, and by about 30 per cent at the deeper depths of 6m to 7m.

But shallow reef crest sites showed recovery of about 16 per cent between 1998 and 2008, although coral cover at deep sites declined until 2003 and has not recovered to historical levels.

“Our data support the notion that coral reefs will change rather than disappear entirely due to coastal land use changes, and provide a glimmer of hope that some heavily disturbed Indo-Pacific reefs can remain in a coral-dominated state,” said the research team, which was led by scientists from the University of New South Wales and also included scientists from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science.

The study described the “human disturbances” that have been affecting Singapore’s ecosystems for decades. The majority of the southern coastline and islands, where Singapore’s coral reefs are located, have undergone reclamation, and many intertidal flats have made way for petrochemical plants, as well as military and recreational areas.

“Extensive coastal construction, dredge spillage and modified hydrodynamics have resulted in sedimentation rates and levels of total suspended solids exceeding those considered optimal for tropical reefs,” said the authors.

Underwater visibility, thought to have been about 10m in the 1960s, decreased to about 2m in the late 1980s, and remains at around this level. “Eutrophication is thought to have increased at least 30-fold in the last 60 years, although measured nutrient concentrations are relatively low,” they said. There were also two major thermal coral bleaching events in 1998 and 2010.

Despite the “clear, significant, negative impacts on both marine and terrestrial biodiversity”, diverse coral communities of more than 250 coral species remain on the fringing reefs around most of Singapore’s southern islands, said the researchers.

These are restricted to depths of about 8m due to very high light attenuation — loss of light intensity from seawater — and comprise “stress-tolerant taxa typical of heavily sedimented and turbid waters”.

Average coral cover at the shallow reef crest was about 36 per cent, above the current average of about 22 to 27 per cent for the Indo-Pacific, although similar to estimated averages for reefs in the South China Sea region (about 40 per cent).

The lack of recovery at deeper sites may be due to low light levels or a lack of unsuitable terrain for new corals to settle and survive on.

But the authors stressed that while the shallow reefs have retained relatively high coral cover for almost three decades, it “does not mean that they will remain this way indefinitely”.

“Furthermore, despite high coral cover, we do not know if these altered shallow coral communities are providing any of the functions and ecological services normally associated with reef ecosystems (for instance, reef building, productive fisheries, diving tourism),” they said.

Future monitoring programmes should consider incorporating other metrics such as net accretion, structural complexity and herbivory rates to assess reef health more broadly, they added.

Study senior author Professor Peter Steinberg said in a report by UNSW: “This is by no means a cause for complacency regarding the state of our reefs, but rather highlights that if we can reduce local stressors, reefs are more likely to be able to rebound from the effects of global stressors such as climate change.”

Singapore is experiencing what could be its worst coral bleaching episode to date, with preliminary assessments showing that it could be more severe than the previous two major bleaching events.

Dive trails at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park have been closed since June to minimise additional stress to the reefs.

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Youth, foreign workers hang out at Coney Island

Janice Tai, Straits Times AsiaOne 14 Nov 16;

Bangladeshi worker Mr Depu, 27, has been in Singapore for five months but had yet to speak to any Singaporean teenager, until yesterday.

"I work most of the time and on rest days, I go out as a group with my Bangladeshi friends to eat or walk around so I don't talk to other people," said Mr Depu, who does maintenance and construction work at Jurong Island.

He works six days a week but chose to spend his only day off yesterday going for a walk with 50 young people at Coney Island.

The walk and a subsequent carnival of food and games were organised by some young people from Outward Bound Singapore for their peers to get to know migrant workers better, appreciate their contributions to Singapore and raise awareness about environmental conservation.

It is supported by a grant from the National Youth Council.

Along the way, Mr Depu, who goes by one name, and 100 other workers talked to the youth and made new friends. One of them is student Eugene Yap, 16.

The teen asked questions, from why Mr Depu wanted to come to Singapore to work to whether he is enjoying his time here as well as how to translate certain English words to Bengali.

Before the walk, foreign workers were an unknown entity to Eugene and his friends.

"They just come here to work and are gone after a few years. So I wanted to find out more about them," said Eugene, who found out about the event through Facebook and signed up for it. He usually spends his Sundays either sleeping in or working part-time as a waiter in a restaurant.

Eugene found out that Mr Depu came here to work to support his family, wife and seven-year-old son back home. They chatted about how the scenery on Coney Island was similar to that of the countryside in Bangladesh. He discovered that Mr Depu "dressed nicely" and spoke good English.

Said Eugene: "I gained new perspectives and hope that I will be able to meet him again in future."

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Singapore government focuses on recycling, but residents fail to play their part

Aza Wee Sile 15 Nov 16;

Singapore has impressive public waste-management systems, but there's just one problem - its residents aren't pulling their weight when it comes to household recycling.

The land-scarce Asian city-state generated about 8,400 tons of solid waste a day in 2015, but has just one offshore landfill space to bury all its trash. The landfill "island," called Semakau, was created in 1999 and extended in 2015, with enough space to meet Singapore's waste disposal needs until at least 2035.

Singapore gets by with so little space for rubbish through an innovative waste management process, in which it recycles about 60 percent of its solid waste and incinerates 38 percent of its total waste in waste-to-energy plants. Just 2 percent of the non-incinerable solid waste and the ash from the incinerator plants are buried in the landfill.

But this isn't due to a heroic environmental effort from Singaporeans. Households recycled just 19 percent of their waste in 2015, down from 22 percent in 2010.

Man crushes empty drink cans, which were collected to be sold off as scrap metal to recycling companies in Singapore.
"The lack of awareness and indifference only partly explains the absence of recycling habits [in Singapore] ... In most cases people do not recycle simply because they are not required to do so," said Tong Yen Wah, co-director of the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Solutions for Megacities program at the NUS Environmental Research Institute.
Recycling is easy enough in Singapore. There are shared recycling bins at every block on the island's public housing estates, with a minimum of three weekly collections. Private landed properties have one recycling bin each, with weekly collections.

"It's really not that difficult for residents to place their recyclables in these bins," Melissa Tan, chairman of the Waste Management & Recycling Association of Singapore, told CNBC. "What is needed is a mindset change."

"I personally think Singaporeans have been too pampered by an efficient government...We need to further develop our recycling culture so that Singaporeans make an extra effort to recycle more instead of simply throwing things away," Tan added.

Aside from the government measures in place to dispose of their rubbish, Singapore has long relied on a network of rag-and-bone men, known as "Karang Guni men," who go door-to-door in housing estates, paying residents by weight for newspapers, used clothing or electronics waste, which they then sell to specialized markets or junkyards.

Lynn Su-Lin, a recycling advocate and environmentalist, told CNBC the reason she believed recycling hadn't caught on in Singapore was because of "the lack of social consciousness in thousands of Singaporean families."

"Singaporeans also have a love affair with plastic bags, always taking new plastic bags because it comes at no extra charge," Lynn added.

Experts say that Singapore should look to emulate East Asian countries including South Korea and Japan, which have cultivated successful public recycling behaviors through unorthodox measures.

For example, in South Korea it is mandatory for food waste to be separated by households so it can be recycled into animal feed or compost. There are also high-tech food waste disposal systems that weigh the food waste and charge residents based on the weight of disposed food waste. The country managed to cut its food waste from 5.1 million tons in 2008 to 4.8 million tons in 2014, official statistics show.

In Southeast Asia, Malaysia has recently focused on recycling, by introducing compulsory waste segregation in June. Penalties for residents who don't comply include fines of up to 500 Malaysian ringgit ($120).

The NUS Environmental Research Institute's Tong said the fines in Malaysia for non-recycling offenders were more of a deterrent than any other measure. But he said implementing penalties in Singapore might not work as well because most residents lived in high-rise buildings with rubbish chutes inside their apartments that led to shared bins, which meant that identifying individual offenders would be difficult.

"What [Singapore] can do instead is to make people pay according to the amount of garbage they produce, known as the pay-as-you-throw or polluters-pay principle," Tong said, adding that such measures could be combined with a save-as-you-reduce program, in which people do not pay to have their recyclables collected.

In 2015, the island state launched a blueprint with targets for a more sustainable Singapore. Some of the new measures to encourage household recycling included dual chutes for waste and recycling in new public housing blocks.

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Malaysia: Rain and high tide cause floods in Johor, Supermoon effect to worsen things


JOHOR BARU: Three districts in Johor have been hit by flash floods caused by heavy downpour and high tide.

The areas affected are Jalan Skudai here, Pontian Trade Centre and Pantai Punggor in Batu Pahat.

Johor Civil Defence Department director Colonel Mat Zin Bujang said heavy rain that coincided with the high tide triggered yesterday’s flash floods.

He said the rains came around 9.45am while the high tide followed some 15 minutes later.

“Water started to rise at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Jalan Skudai at around 10.30am but receded at around 12.25pm due to low tide,” Col Mat Zin said. “No one was injured.”

He pointed out that the tide levels at Pantai Punggor was at 3.2m.

“The department placed several personnel at known high tide hotspots around Johor due to the supermoon phenomena.

“We will continue to monitor the coastlines over the next few days due to the current rainy season and high tide,” he said.

The supermoon phenomena is expected to cause water levels to rise up to 3.2m tomorrow and on Thursday due to the gravity pull between the moon and the Earth.

In Taiping, flash floods were reported in various parts of the town and nearby Aulong and Pokok Assam after an hour-long downpour.

Several vehicles were submerged in 0.3m high floodwaters at a carpark in Barrack Road while others were damaged by fallen trees. Some 1,000 homes were affected.

In Klang, residents of Kampung Sementa residents in Kapar here were relieved their homes were spared during the high tide phenomenon.

The repaired bund in Sungai Keramat stopped the waters from overflowing into the village which is situated right next to the river.

“I stayed up late last night to keep watch. The water level rose on the other side of the bund at about 5am and only a small amount of water overflowed into Sungai Keramat at around 6am.

“Thank God the bund worked,” said resident Rozita Bahar when met at her home yesterday.

The 47-year-old janitor said that her mother, daughter and a few other siblings living nearby would continue to stay put at their houses as higher tides were expected over the next two days.

“There is still so much to clean, clear and rearrange in the house following the flooding last month.

“We really hope there will be no more flash floods in the area after this,” she added.

Jariah Md Saleh, 64, from Kampung Tok Muda, another high risk area in Kapar, was also relieved that her home was not affected.

“However, some neighbours and I are seeking temporary shelter at the evacuation centre. Let’s see what happens over the next few days,” she said.

Information from the National Hydrogra­phic Centre in Port Klang said the tide was recorded at 5.5m at 5.27am yesterday.

It is expected to rise to 5.6m today and tomorrow.

Selangor Disaster Management Committee Sementa coordinator Mohd Azmi Mat Sangir said that as of 3pm, four evacuation centres had been activated in the state and two of them were not occupied.

Meanwhile, state infrastructure and public facilities exco Zaidy Abdul Talib said portions of the bund in Sungai Air Tawar and Tebuk Mendeling in Sabak Bernam gave way again yesterday morning, flooding parts of the ground floor.

“Officers from the Irrigation and Drainage Department are building smaller bunds to prevent water at the burrow pit from seeping into the nearby low-cost housing area” he said.

King tide causes flash floods in Batu Pahat, Pontian
AHMAD FAIRUZ OTHMAN New Straits Times 14 Nov 16;

JOHOR BARU: Batu Pahat and Pontian were hit by flash floods this morning following the king tide phenomenon reigning coastal areas in the state. Johor Civil Defence Force director Colonel Mat Zin Bujang said areas such as Kampung Punggur Rengit in Batu Pahat experienced 30-minute of flash floods as water rose to less than a metre high.

"The 10am incident lasted about 30 minutes before the water subsided. There are no temporary relocation centres activated," he told the New Straits Times.

Mat Zin said the flash flood in Batu Pahat coast was caused by heavy rain, strong wind and tides that reached 3.2m in height at 9.30am today.

Traders and residents at a food court in Kampung Punggur, Rengit were seen salvaging their belongings when their premises were inundated by less than a metre-deep water.

Meanwhile, residents in Pontian also witnessed the king tide when floods hit part of the Pontian Commercial Centre.

The water subsided about an hour later. In Johor Baru, Malaysian Red Crescent Community Services committee member Lekha Nandy, who was driving out of the Sultanah Aminah Hospital said the large drains outside the hospital overflowed during heavy rain in the morning.

"I was driving out of the hospital at 11am when I saw the large monsoon drain outside the hospital's fence overflowing. The rest of the hospital compound was not affected," said Lekha, adding that none of the other areas in the city were flooded due to the high tide phenomenon.

Several areas at high risk of flooding due to ‘supermoon’
The Star 14 Nov 16;

GEORGE TOWN: With the supermoon phenomenon expected to take place today, several areas in Penang would be at risk of flooding.

State Local Government, Flood Mitigation and Traffic Management Committee member Chow Kon Yeow said that the tide was expected to reach as high as 3.5 metres and low lying areas might experience flood.

"Areas such as Kampung Manis, Prai is one of the most vulnerable areas in the state to experience flood due to the phenomenon because of its location," he said during a press conference here Monday.

It was reported that the king tide phenomenon was forecast to occur between today and Nov 21, when the tide could rise as high as 3.5m. The last round of king tides happened in mid-October.

This is the first time since 1948 that the moon will be at its closest to earth and due to the position, the gravitational pull will be stronger with the phenomenon expected to cause king tides which will lead to flooding especially at low lying areas.
"Phenomenon such as the super moon and extraordinary heavy rainfall will result in flooding but unfortunately, it is out of our control as we could not control the nature," he said.

On Oct 16, some 20 houses in Kampung Manis in Perai were hit by floods.

Meanwhile Penang Civil Defence director Pang Ah Leh said his personnel were on standby besides taking steps to face the high tide phenomenon.

Based on previous experience, the three districts, namely Barat Daya, Seberang Perai Utara and Seberang Perai Tengah are expected to be at risk of flooding even without rain, he said in a statement here today.

He said residents in high risk areas are advised to evacuate to the relief centres when directed while patrols would be conducted every four hours. - Bernama

Sabah on alert, as tomorrow's Supermoon may be escorted by the King tide
AWANG ALI OMAR New Straits Times 14 Nov 16;

SANDAKAN: Residents at several coastal areas here are reminded to remain vigilant during tomorrow night’s Supermoon phenomenon, which brings with it the possibility of king tides. The full moon, which will be larger than usual, is likely to have greater gravitational pull that may trigger super high tides, leading to floods.

District Civil Defence chief Ahmad Roslan said warnings on the phenomenon have been issued to about 10,000 people at water villages in the Sim-Sim, Tinusa and Karamunting areas. Other districts which may be affected include islands at Libaran, Sukau, Sekong and Gum-Gum areas.

"Waves could reach between 2.28 and 2.53 meters from 5pm until 9pm today and tomorrow.

"There will be 20 Civil Defence personnel and police on standby for evacuation if necessary," Ahmad said, adding that the public should avoid going to the seaside for safety purposes.

Repaired bund prevents flooding near Kapar
ALLISON LAI The Star 14 Nov 16;

KLANG: The repaired bund along Sungai Keramat has prevented ten houses from being flooded when it stopped waters from overflowing into Kampung Sementa, Batu 5 in Kapar.

''The water level rose on the other side of the bund at about 5am and only a small amount of water overflowed from Sungai Keramat at around 6am. Thank God the bund works,'' said resident Rozita Bahar when met at her home on Monday.

The 47-year-old janitor said that her mother, daughter and few other siblings who also live nearby would stay put at their houses as higher tides were expected on Tuesday and Wednesday.

''There is still so much to clean, clear and rearrange in the house following the flooding last month.

“We really hope there will be no more flash floods in the area after this,” she added.

According to information from the National Hydrographic Centre in Port Klang, the tide was recorded at 5.5m at 5.27am on Monday.

It is expected to rise to 5.6m on Tuesday and Wednesday.

When contacted, Selangor Disaster Management Committee Sementa coordinator Mohd Azmi Mat Sangir said that as of 3pm, four evacuation centres have been activated in the state and two of them were not occupied.

“A total of 48 families have been displaced so far and the Dewan Kg Tok Muda evacuation centre in Kapar here recorded the most number of evacuees with 44 families. There are four families at the Dewan Jalan Palembang Kampung Rantau Panjang,” said Mohd Azmi.

He noted that the nine families that stayed put at Kampung Tok Muda have been told to evacuate this time because the area was still considered to be at risk of flooding.

“The villagers stayed put because their homes were not affected during the high tide last month; however we told them to move as this high tide is coupled with rain and strong winds,” he said.

Meanwhile, state infrastructure and public facilities committee chairman Zaidy Abdul Talib said that portions of the bund along Sungai Air Tawar and Tebuk Mendeling in Sabak Bernam gave way again on Monday morning.

“Officers from the Irrigation and Drainage Department are building smaller bunds to prevent water at the burrow pit from seeping into the nearby low cost housing area. A pump is also installed at the housing area to pump out the water,” he said when contacted.

Zaidy also noted that the bund in Sungai Keramat was not complete.

“Works to restore the bund to its designed shape are ongoing after the water has receded,” he said.

He added that an emergency allocation of RM4.3mil has been given by the state administration to repair the broken bunds along the coastal area.

“The works will continue wherever necessary,” he said.

Flash floods hit Perak
IVAN LOH The Star 15 Nov 16;

IPOH: Flash floods have hit several districts in Perak following heavy rainfall late Monday.

Some 287 people from 200 families are affected and have been relocated to temporary shelters.

In Manjung, several villages including Kampung Kilang, Kampung Gaduh, Kampung Tuang, Kampung Paya Takung, Kampung Meranti, Kampung Paya Ara and Kampung Pulau Kabung have been inundated with floodwaters.

A temporary shelter was set up at the Inderawati Hall in Beruas at 9.15pm Monday to accommodate 141 people from 50 families.

At Larut Matang and Selama district, the Simpang Halt community is being used for flood victims from Kampung Simpang Halt.

The shelter was opened at 7pm and is now housing 30 families, with 78 people.

At Kuala Sepetang, the Kampung Jelapang Jaya hall has been opened at 10pm to shelter the 22 villagers there.

In Taiping, a temporary shelter has been set up at SK Kampung Boyan to accommodate 13 villagers from Kampung Murni.

In Kuala Kangsar, Kampung Lempor Hilir, in Manong, have been inundated, affecting 10 families with 33 people.

In Kerian, reports have been received of floods due to extraordinary high tides, with the water level reaching as high as 2.79m at about 3.30am.

The water started to recede by 5.30am.

Among the areas affected included Kampung Depan Balai and Kampung Teluk in Bagan Serai, Kampung Sungai Protan, Kampung Jalan Gula, Kampung Sungai Baru, Kampung Sungai Petani and Kampung Lubok Buntar in Selinsing.

Other areas are Bagan Cina, Kampung Raja Bashah, Kampung Nelayan Kuala Kurau, Kampung Nelayan Tanjung Piandang, Bagan Selatan, Kampung Bagan Tiang and Bagan Utara.

The condition there is said to be under control.

High tide phenomenon strikes Perak, 220 people evacuated
NABILAH HAMUDIN New Straits Times 15 Nov 16;

IPOH: Three districts in the state, namely, Larut Matang Selama (LMS), Manjung and Kuala Kangsar were hit by flood following the high-tide phenomenon yesterday. The waters have inundated the homes of 74 families comprising 220 people.

A spokesman for the State Flood Committee Secretary said that as of 12 midnight, three relief centres have been opened – two in LMS and one in Manjung.

He said the highest number of evacuees has been recorded in LMS, with 100 residents from 37 families, all of whom were relocated to Dewan Orang Ramai Simpang Halt and Dewan Orang Ramai Kampung Jelapang Jaya since 7pm yesterday. Among the affected areas in LMS are Kampung Jelapang Jaya, Mukim Assam Kumbang and Kampung Simpang Halt.

"In Manjung, 11 areas are affected, including Kampung Pulau Meranti, Kampung Paya Ara and Kampung Masjid Lama. "A total of 89 residents from 27 families were also affected in this district. They have been evacuated to Dewan Inderawati Beruas," he said.

In Kuala Kangsar, 34 victims from 10 families from Manong and Kampung Lempor Hilir were affected by the floods. "However, no relief centre has been opened in Kuala Kangsar," he added.

Taiping hit by flash floods
CHAN LI LEEN The Star 14 Nov 16;

TAIPING: Various parts of the town centre here and the nearby areas of Aulong, Pokok Assam and Simpang were inundated after an hour-long downpour on Monday.

Several vehicles were seen in 0.3m-high floodwaters at a car park on Barrack Road following heavy rains and strong winds, which started at about 2pm yesterday.

Fallen trees also caused damage to vehicles.

About 1,000 homes were affected by the flash floods although no injuries were reported.

When contacted, Taiping OCPD Asst Comm Harrith Kam Abdullah said five families from Kampung Pak Darus in Simpang were evacuated from their homes at 8pm.

"Twenty-seven people including 13 children have been relocated to the community hall at the village.

"Waters in the area are receding," he added.

In Kampung Simpang Halt, Simpang, 44 people including 18 children, were relocated to the village community hall after three hours of heavy rain.

"The road leading to the village is not accessible due to overflow of water from its drainage and irrigation system," said ACP Harrith Kam.

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Malaysia: Census in the works to update Sabah orang utan information

The Star 15 Nov 16;

KOTA KINABALU: A census of Sabah’s iconic orang utan will be carried out to determine its current population.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry’s permanent secretary Datu Ruslan Datu Sulai said the latest data was needed so that the Sabah government could update its policies concerning the primates.

“The last census was conducted in 2004. We had about 11,000 orang utan in Sabah then,” Ruslan said when launching the Orang Utan Awareness Week at the Sepilok rehabilitation centre in Sandakan.

“We need the latest information.”

He said the state was spending some RM8,000 a year for every orang utan undergoing rehabilitation and that the innaugural Orang Utan Awareness Week programme, involving students, was necessary.

“The public, especially our young, need to know what is involved in the rehabilitation of the orphaned orang utan and how these primates are natural assets for Sabah,” he added.

Sabah Wildlife Department director August­ine Tuuga said since the 1990s, some 700 rehabilitated orang utan had been returned to their natural habitat from the Sepilok centre.

The renowned centre continued to attract visitors from around the world, he said, adding: “More than 50,000 people came to the facility this year alone.”

In July, the International Union for Conser­vation of Nature declared that the Bornean orang utan (Pongo pygmaeus) was critically endangered, adding that the primate now faced an “extremely high risk of extinction in the wild”.

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Indonesia sees highest number of natural disasters in 10 years

The Jakarta Post 14 Nov 16;

Indonesia was hit with 1,985 natural disasters from Jan.1 to Nov.11, the highest in 10 years. Disaster numbers are expected to increase due to unstable hydrological conditions, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has said.

The agency predicts Indonesia will face more natural disasters until January next year because of this year’s strong La Niña weather phenomenon, which has caused heavy rains and extensive flooding across the nation.

“Regions previously unaffected by natural disasters are now susceptible to calamities. Several areas in Bandung, West Java, for example, have flooded on account of not being able to accommodate extremely large volumes of rain,” said BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho in a data released on Sunday.

The BNPB states 659 out of the 1,985 natural disasters were floods, followed by whirlwinds and landslides, which reached 572 and 485 incidents, respectively.

It further says the disasters have affected 2.52 million people, 375 of whom have died and 383 were injured in the incidents.

Although there is still one month left before the end of the year, the BNPB data, which records 1,985 natural calamities, suggests that 2016 is the most devastating year Indonesia has seen in the last 10 years. The second-worst year was 2014, during which the country suffered 1,967 disasters.

“We predict rainfall will increase until it peaks in January next year. Our data shows that in Indonesia, January is the month with the most disasters,” Sutopo said. (adt/ebf)

2016 ‘year of natural disasters’
Andi Hajramurni, Jon Afrizal, and Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 15 Nov 16;

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has declared 2016 “a year of natural disasters”, as deteriorating weather caused an abnormally high number of floods and landslides across the archipelago. Hundreds of people have been killed, while millions have been displaced.

The agency recorded 1,985 natural disaster incidents from January to Nov. 11, already making 2016 the worst year in more than a decade. In the past 10 years, the highest annual figure was 1,967 in 2014.

“More flash floods, tornadoes and landslides are predicted to come, as precipitation will continue to rise until December,” BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Monday.

According to the agency’s data, natural disasters in 2016 claimed the lives of 375 people, while 383 others were injured and 2.52 million displaced.

In Bone regency, South Sulawesi, a joint search and rescue team on Monday was still looking for two people reported missing in Sunday’s flash flood near Merungnge River in Palakka district.

The two were identified as Ashar Syahputra, 17, and Ridwan Gunawan, 20. The body of 26-year-old Musdalifah was found on Sunday some 3 kilometers from the site of the flash flood.

Search and rescue officer Andi Sultan said the number of fatalities was not yet known.

The river was only recently turned into a recreational site. More than 100 visitors were swept away by the strong current of water up to 4 meters deep when the flash flood struck.

As of 9:30 p.m. on the day, 96 people were found alive up to 6 kilometers from the site.

Bone Regency Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Bahar Kadir said the flash flood had been triggered by heavy rain for several hours in the river’s upstream area.

In the province of Riau, meanwhile, floods and landslides hit a number of areas on Monday morning following days of heavy rain.

In Rokan Hulu regency, at least 700 houses in four subdistricts were inundated in water of up to a meter due to the overflowing rivers Batang Lubuh, Aliantan and Teriak.

Flooding also hit Bengkalis district of Bengkalis regency, inundating some 300 houses and four schools in Teluk Latak subdistrict and forcing the authorities to send the students home.

In Kampar regency, heavy downpours caused a landslide at the trans-Sumatra highway, paralyzing the main road connection between Riau and West Sumatra.

Heavy rain on Sunday afternoon increased the number of floods in the city of Bandung and on the Cikampek toll road.

The BNPB said those floods, too, were due to overflowing rivers. Apart from damaging cars, houses and the archive building of the Cicendo hospital, the floods disrupted railway operations.

Bandung Police spokeswoman Comr. Reny Martha said the flash floods had hit Pagarsih, Arjuna, Sarijadi, Gegerkalong and Pasirkoja.

She added the water had inundated houses in the affected areas by up to 1.6 meters but quickly subsided an hour later, reported.

Bandung train station was also inundated for hours, disrupting operations for two hours.

“The railway tracks have been inundated in water since noon, so trains were halted in the stations of Cikudapateuh and Ciroyom,” said Ilud Siregar, a spokesperson of state-owned railway company PTKA.

In the province of Jambi, heavy rain in a number of regions caused an increase in the water level of the Batanghari River.

Residents, administrations gear up for disasters amid extreme weather
Agnes Anya The Jakarta Post 15 Nov 16;

Heavy rains and strong winds in the past week have forced residents and administrations in Greater Jakarta to gear up for rain-related disasters such as floods.

A resident of Tangerang city Aloisia Joanne said she never left her sandals and raincoat behind when she left her house after being trapped in the middle of a thunderstorm a couple of days ago. She said she had been on Jl. MH Thamrin in Cikokol of Tangerang when the storm broke.

“I was shocked because I had never seen the road inundated that severely before,” Ane said.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Ridlo, 24, a resident of Lubang Buaya in East Jakarta, delayed his return trip to Jakarta from Jatinangor, West Java, after learning that floods had brought the Cikampek toll road in Bekasi to a complete standstill on Sunday evening.

A number of other places were severely inundated due to thunderstorms that struck all areas of Greater Jakarta.

As many as 800 residents of 1,000 houses in the Total Persada residential complex in Periuk, Tangerang, had to be evacuated to a nearby mosque and sports hall after 2-meter-high waters inundated the housing complex.

Cloudbursts in Greater Jakarta as well as water runoff from upstream areas such as Bogor in West Java, had contributed to the floods, said Tangerang Mitigation Agency head Irman Pujahendra. As of Monday evening, the Total Persada complex was still inundated by 1.5-meter-high waters.

The agency is teaming up with local police in order to mitigate the flood and the victims by deploying 14 boats for the evacuation and 12 water pumps to ease the flooding, he added.

He called on Tangerang residents to remain alert amid the extreme weather while also taking good care of their environment, by managing their garbage and cleaning sewers.

Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) head Yunus S. Swarinoto also confirmed recent extreme weather in several regions in Indonesia triggered by unstable atmospheric conditions.

According to the BMKG’s predictions these conditions will lead to increasingly intense thunderstorms and possible thunder and lightning until the end of November.

The rainy season would peak between November and early 2017, he said, adding that residents must anticipate any possible disasters, such as floods, landslides and fallen trees, given the current weather phenomena.

Heavy downpours also caused at least a dozen trees to fall in the capital recently, damaging a number of vehicles and public facilities.

Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency provides a hotline service at 112 to accept any emergency calls from residents related to disasters. (van)

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Indonesia: Floods submerge 700 houses in Rokan Hulu, Riau

Antara 14 Nov 16;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - Floods, triggered by incessant heavy rains, have submerged at least 700 houses in Rokan Hulu District, Riau Islands.

"Floods hit four sub-districts and inundated some 700 houses," Aceng Hardiana, Head of Rokan Hulu Disaster Mitigation Office, said here on Monday.

The four sub-districts flooded following the overflowing of Rivers Aliantan and Teriak were Kabun, Tandun, Rambah Samo, and Rambah Hilir.

The rivers spilled over their banks following incessant heavy rains since the wee hours of Monday.

"We have forecast that rain might continue and flooding might expand to wider areas," he said.

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Vietnam 'supermarket' for illegal wildlife trade, hearing told

AFP Yahoo News 15 Nov 16;

A Vietnamese village has become "a supermarket for illegal wildlife trafficking" raking in millions of dollars, a special hearing was told Monday.

The two-day public hearing in The Hague is laying out the findings of a year-long undercover investigation by the new Wildlife Justice Commission.

The probe has provided "clear and irrefutable evidence of an industrial-scale crime hub in the village of Nhi Khe in Vietnam," said the commission's executive director Olivia Swaak-Goldman.

"Urgent, decisive action" was needed, she told about 200 people gathered at The Hague's imposing Peace Palace.

The commission, set up last year, has no power to bring charges, but hopes the hearing will push Vietnam and other countries to crack down on the global $20-billion (18.5-billion-euro) trade in wildlife poaching.

Five experts, including international judges, will set out recommendations on Tuesday for further action.

But it seems Hanoi has already been spurred into action ahead of a major international conference on wildlife trafficking it is hosting later this week.

On Saturday, Vietnamese authorities destroyed a stockpile of two tonnes of ivory and 70 kilos (154 pounds) of rhino horn, which had been uncovered by the commission.

Former US assistant New York attorney Marcus Asner, an advisor on wildlife trafficking to US President Barack Obama, said it was "a good step" but more was needed.

Nhi Khe had become "a supermarket for illegal wildlife" with "massive quantities of rhino horn for sale and huge quantities of elephant products" openly on display, he said.

The commission says it has identified 51 people involved in the illegal trade in Nhi Khe, operating out of 16 shops dotted around the small village. The names have been given to Hanoi.

But "justice has not been activated in this case by the authorities in Vietnam, despite months of discussions and clear and detailed evidence," said Swaak-Goldman.

During five return visits in 2015 and 2016, the undercover operation found $53.1 million worth of parts from rhinos, elephants and tigers in Nhi Khe, just 17 kilometres (10 miles) south of Hanoi.

There were parts from up to 907 elephants, 579 rhinos and 225 tigers. But there were also other dead animals for sale, including pangolin, bear, hawksbill turtles and helmeted hornbills.

They were smuggled to the Southeast Asian country mostly from Africa and overwhelmingly destined for customers in China.

- Massive profits -

After a sale is agreed, business is then conducted on WeChat, the Chinese version of the mobile phone messaging service WhatsApp, with the buyers providing account details of Chinese banks for payment.

"What is most lacking is enforcement, and this is based on the absence of political will," said international judge Motoo Noguchi.

"The culture of impunity prevails."

A series of undercover videos showed shopkeepers weighing piles of ivory and rhino horn. There were also hundreds of bangles, necklaces and figurines.

One elephant tusk was estimated at $29,000 -- a fortune in the country where the average monthly salary is $210.

One woman trafficked an estimated $2.2 million in products over 12 months from her mansion, with a brand new Mercedes outside, the commission's senior legal investigator Pauline Verheij told the hearing.

Despite crackdowns elsewhere, an interpreter told the team it was safer to shop in Nhi Khe as people there "had their connections" ensuring police turned a blind eye.

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Natural disasters push 26 million into poverty annually: World Bank

Marlowe Hood AFP Yahoo News 14 Nov 16;

Marrakesh (Morocco) (AFP) - Natural disasters drive at least 26 million people into poverty each year and cause more than $500 billion in lost consumption, far exceeding the value of damage to property alone, according to a World Bank report released Monday.

Those numbers will be driven up in the coming decades as climate change amplifies the destructive power of cyclones, flooding and drought, said the report, released on the margins of high-level UN climate talks in Marrakesh.

Up to now, global calculations of the damage wrought by Nature on communities have not adequately taken into account disparities in wealth, according to the 190-page report, entitled "Unbreakable: Building the resilience of the poor in the face of natural disasters".

The new approach has huge implications for how and where to best spend money to make cities and rural areas more resilient to such shocks.

"One dollar in losses does not mean the same thing to a rich person as a poor person," said lead author Stephane Hallegatte.

"The same loss affects poor and marginalised people far more because their livelihoods depend on few assets, and their consumption is closer to subsistence level."

Today, a government deciding where to install infrastructure to avoid urban flooding would logically favour a wealthy district that suffered $20 million of property damage over a poor one where asset losses totalled $10 million.

- 'Gains in well-being' -

But the calculation changes as soon as the often long-lasting human misery left in the wake of flooding in a slum area is factored in.

Building dikes and drainage systems in the poorer area "would generate lower gains in avoided assets loss, but larger gains in well-being," the report said.

The true cost of natural disasters have been vastly underestimated, it concluded.

A recent UN study of 117 countries, both rich and developing, estimated total global asset losses from natural disasters at $327 billion (304 billion euros) a year.

But if lost consumption -- when medicine or schooling for example that was barely within reach before becomes unaffordable -- is included, the bill totals about $520 billion annually, the World Bank found.

Based on a global survey of 1.2 million people in 89 nations, the report also showed that 26 million people fall below the income threshold of $1.9 (1.75 euros) a day, a widely accepted measure of poverty.

"This is surely a conservative figure," Hallegatte told AFP.

Myanmar's Cyclone Nargis in 2008, which claimed some 140,000 lives, caused some four billion dollars in damage, according to the UN.

But it also forced up to half of the country’s poor farmers to sell off land and other assets to relieve debt following the cyclone, pushing them deeper and more irretrievably into hardship -- making the true cost much higher.

The most deadly disasters since the start of the century -– Nargis, the Indian ocean tsunami of 2004, earthquakes in China and Haiti -– have not been caused by extreme weather events.

As climate change kicks in, however, the destructive power of nature will increase, scientists say.

"Severe climate shocks threaten to roll back decades of progress against poverty," World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

"Building resilience to disasters not only makes economic sense, it is a moral imperative."

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2016 will be the hottest year on record, UN says

World Meteorological Organisation figures show global temperature is 1.2C above pre-industrial levels and will set a new high for the third year running
Damian Carrington The Guardian 14 Nov 16;

2016 will very likely be the hottest year on record and a new high for the third year in a row, according to the UN. It means 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have been this century.

The scorching temperatures around the world, and the extreme weather they drive, mean the impacts of climate change on people are coming sooner and with more ferocity than expected, according to scientists.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report, published on Monday at the global climate summit in Morocco, found the global temperature in 2016 is running 1.2C above pre-industrial levels. This is perilously close to to the 1.5C target included as an aim of the Paris climate agreement last December.

The El Niño weather phenomenon helped push temperatures even higher in early 2016 but the global warming caused by the greenhouse gas emissions from human activities remains the strongest factor.

“Another year. Another record,” said WMO secretary-general, Petteri Taalas. “The extra heat from the powerful El Niño event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue.”

“Because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen,” he said. “‘Once in a generation’ heatwaves and flooding are becoming more regular.”

The WMO said human-induced global warming had contributed to at least half the extreme weather events studied in recent years, with the risk of extreme heat increasing by 10 times in some cases.

“It is almost as if mother nature is making a statement,” said climate scientist Michael Mann, at Penn State University in the US. “Just as one of the planet’s two largest emitters of carbon has elected a climate change denier [Donald Trump] - who has threatened to pull out of the Paris accord - to the highest office, she reminds us that she has the final word.”

“Climate change is not like other issues that can be postponed from one year to the next,” he said. “The US and world are already behind; speed is of the essence, because climate change and its impacts are coming sooner and with greater ferocity than anticipated.”

The record-smashing heat led to searing heatwaves across the year: a new high of 42.7C was recorded in Pretoria, South Africa in January; Mae Hong Son in Thailand saw 44.6C on 28 April; Phalodi in India reached 51.0C in May and Mitribah in Kuwait recorded 54.0C in July. Parts of Arctic Russia also saw extreme warming - 6C to 7C above average

Arctic ice reached its equal second lowest extent in the satellite record in September while warm oceans saw coral mortality of up to 50% in parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Extreme weather and climate related events have damaged farming and food security, affecting more than 60 million people, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has also broken records in 2016, with May seeing the highest monthly value yet - 407.7 ppm - at Mauna Loa, in Hawaii.

The forecast for 2017 is another very hot year, but probably not a record breaker.

“As the El Niño wanes, we don’t anticipate that 2017 will be another record-breaking year,” said Dr Peter Stott at the UK’s Met Office. “But 2017 is likely to be warmer than any year prior to the last two decades because of the underlying extent of [human-caused] warming due to the increasing atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.”

However, another analysis released at the UN summit in Morocco showed that global carbon emissions have barely grown in the last three years, following decades of strong growth. The main reason is China burning less coal.

Professor Corinne Le Quéré, at University of East Anglia in the UK, who led the analysis, said: “This third year of almost no growth in emissions is unprecedented at a time of strong economic growth. This is a great help for tackling climate change but it is not enough. Global emissions now need to decrease rapidly, not just stop growing.”

The WMO’s temperature analysis combines the three main records, from the Met Office, Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and stretches back to 1880.

2016 set to break heat record despite slowdown in emissions
KARL RITTER Associated Press Yahoo News 15 Nov 16;

MARRAKECH, Morocco (AP) — Global temperatures are soaring toward a record high this year, the U.N. weather agency said Monday, while another report showed emissions of a key global warming gas have flattened out in the past three years.

The reports injected a mix of gloom and hope at U.N. climate talks in Marrakech this week.

"Another year. Another record. The high temperatures we saw in 2015 are set to be beaten in 2016," said Petteri Taalas, the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

WMO's preliminary data through October showed world temperatures, boosted by the El Nino phenomenon, are 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

That's getting close to the limit set by the global climate agreement adopted in Paris last year. It calls for limiting the temperature rise since the industrial revolution to 2 degrees C or even 1.5 degrees C.

WMO said 16 of the 17 hottest years have occurred this century. The only exception was 1998, which was also an El Nino year.

Taalas said parts of Arctic Russia saw temperatures soaring 6-7 degrees C above average. "We are used to measuring temperature records in fractions of a degree, and so this is different," he said.

Environmental groups and climate scientists said the report underscores the need to quickly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for warming the planet.

Another report released Monday delivered some positive news, showing global CO2 emissions have flattened out in the past three years. However, the authors of the study cautioned it's unclear whether the slowdown, mainly caused by declining coal use in China, is a permanent trend.

"It is far too early to proclaim we have reached a peak," said co-author Glen Peters, a senior researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.

The study, published in the journal Earth System Science Data, says global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to grow just 0.2 percent this year.

That would mean emissions have leveled off at about 36 billion metric tons in the past three years even though the world economy has expanded, suggesting the historical bonds between economic gains and emissions growth may have been severed.

"This could be the turning point we have hoped for," said David Ray, a professor of carbon management at the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved with the study. "To tackle climate change those bonds must be broken and here we have the first signs that they are at least starting to loosen."

Chinese emissions were down 0.7 percent in 2015 and are projected to fall 0.5 percent in 2016, the researchers said, though noting that Chinese energy statistics have been plagued by inconsistencies.

Peters said it's unclear whether the Chinese slowdown was due to a restructuring of its economy or a sign of economic instability, but the unexpected emissions reduction "give us hope that the world's biggest emitter can deliver much more ambitious emission reductions."

China, which accounts for almost 30 percent of global carbon pollution, pledged to peak its emissions around 2030 as part of the climate pact adopted in Paris last year. Many analysts say China's peak is likely to come much earlier — and may already have occurred.

"A few more years of data is needed to confirm this," said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics.

Even if China's emissions have stabilized, growth in India and other developing countries could push global CO2 levels higher again. India's emissions rose 5 percent in 2015, the study said.

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States — the world's No. 2 carbon polluter — could also have an impact.

U.S. emissions fell 2.6 percent last year and are projected to drop 1.7 percent this year, as natural gas and renewables displace coal in power generation, the study showed. But it's unclear whether those reductions will continue under Trump, who has pledged to roll back the Obama administration's environmental policies, including the Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.

Obama's climate envoy, Jonathan Pershing, said Monday that China and other countries would move forward on climate action even if the U.S. reverses course under Trump.

"I'm hearing the same from the Europeans," he said. "I'm hearing the same from the Brazilians. I'm hearing the same from Mexico, and from Canada, and from smaller nations like Costa Rica and from Colombia."

Some researchers stressed that it's not enough for global emissions to stabilize, saying they need to drop toward zero for the world to meet the goals of the Paris deal.

"Worryingly, the reductions pledged by the nations under the Paris Agreement are not sufficient to achieve this," said climate scientist Chris Rapley of University College London.


Associated Press writer Samia Errazouki in Marrakech contributed to this report.

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