Best of our wild blogs: 30 Jun 17

Reefy seawalls at East Coast Park
wild shores of singapore

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Construction of Singapore's 4th desalination plant begins in Marina East

Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 29 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE: The construction of Singapore's fourth desalination plant began on Thursday (Jun 29) in Marina East.

It is the first dual-mode desalination plant, meaning it can treat both freshwater from the Marina Reservoir and seawater, depending on weather conditions.

Currently, freshwater from reservoirs is processed at eight water works across Singapore, while seawater is treated at SingSpring and Tuaspring desalination plants. On rainy days when water levels in the reservoirs are high, the excess rainwater will be discharged into the sea. But with the new plant, the water will be treated for use.

Designed by Keppel Infrastructure Holdings, which will also build, own and operate the Marina East desalination plant, the facility will be able to produce around 30 million gallons of fresh drinking water per day, enough to fill about 55 Olympic-sized swimming pools when it is completed by the end of January 2020.


The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant is also the first to feature green spaces that can be used by the public for recreation. All of the plant's water treatment equipment will be located underground, topped off by a green rooftop that can accommodate about 700 people.

Built on a three hectare plot of land, the plant will also be integrated with the Eastern Coastal Park Connector Network that bridges East Coast Park and Gardens by the Bay East.

This "sleek modern design" breaks away from that of conventional water treatment plants, said Keppel Corporation and national water agency PUB in a joint media release.

“The civil engineering component is very important in the plant because of the location, the type of soil condition we are facing, and also the way we want the plant to be low – to blend in with the park," said chief executive of Keppel Infrastructure Ong Tiong Guan,

He added that building the plant two or three storeys high would make it "stick out like a sore thumb".

While the plant will be able to treat both seawater and freshwater, they cannot be done at the same time.

During dry periods when the water level in the reservoir is low, water from the sea will then be channeled to the plant to be desalinated. Water from both sources will be filtered from the get-go, removing larger impurities before it goes through a “dual flow chamber”.

This chamber then pumps the water to the plant through a 1.8km underground pipeline above the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE). Such a system has been years in the making – a similar dual-mode technology has been in operation since 2007 at a plant in Pasir Ris to test it out before applying it on a larger scale at Marina East.


At the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said that desalinated water, as one of Singapore’s four "national taps", plays an “especially crucial role in ensuring a diversified and sustainable supply of water”.

“Water has always been an existential issue for Singapore. Climate change impact will exacerbate our water issues if we are not prepared," said Mr Masagos.

He added that Singaporeans are able to enjoy a reliable supply of water today, due to the country's "relentless pursuit to secure a high-quality and reliable supply of water."

"We need to continue right-pricing this precious resource, so that users can appreciate its scarcity value, and the cost of supplying water”, the minister said.

Desalination costs more than treating freshwater as it is more energy-intensive, but Mr Masagos said PUB is exploring technologies to reduce the energy consumption of desalination processes, to "moderate" the cost of water production.

A fifth desalination plant at Jurong Island is in the pipeline and will also be completed in 2020. That would bring the total daily water production in Singapore to 190 million gallons in three years' time.

World’s first large-scale desalination plant for sea and freshwater to open in Singapore in 2020
ALFRED CHUA Today Online 29 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE — The Republic’s first large-scale desalination plant that can treat both seawater and freshwater, which Keppel Infrastructure is building in Marina East, will begin operations in 2020, starting a new chapter in the nation’s journey to boost water resilience.

That same year, the fifth desalination plant on Jurong Island will also open.

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, to be built near the Marina Coastal Expressway and East Coast Parkway, will be able to draw freshwater from the nearby Marina Reservoir, as well as seawater. Construction of the plant, which can treat 30 million gallons of water a day, started on Thursday (June 29).

The type of water that will be drawn into the desalination plant will depend on weather conditions. During wetter seasons, freshwater from the reservoir will be drawn, while the plant will tap seawater during dry spells. The water drawn will then travel underground, northwards, through a dual-flow chamber for around 1.8km, before reaching the plant, where it will be treated.

The dual-flow chamber will be located south of the Marina Reservoir, to the east of Marina Barrage. Above ground, the area will be built into a playground, said Keppel Infrastructure, which will own and operate the plant, on Thursday. The company is a division of Keppel Corporation.

The water-treatment plant will also be located underground and capped with a rooftop lawn, which will be open to the public.

Speaking to reporters, Keppel Infrastructure’s chief executive Ong Tiong Guan noted that since the plant and pipelines sit on reclaimed land, which is mostly made of clay, extra consideration must be taken in the building and excavation.

“The civil engineering component is very important in the plant because of the location, the type of soil condition we are facing, and also the way we want the plant to be low ... to blend in with the park,” Dr Ong said.

The reliability of the dual-purpose desalination concept was tested on a smaller scale at a plant at Sungei Tampines that was set up in 2007. That facility, which also draws freshwater and seawater from surrounding sources, is able to produce around one million gallons a day.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony on Thursday, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said the Republic’s demand for water is expected to more than double by 2060.

Hence, the authorities will be “ramping up our capacities of NEWater and desalination” so that these two sources of water can meet up to 55 per cent and 30 per cent of demand by 2060, respectively. This is up from the current 40 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

“We need to continue right-pricing this precious resource so that users can appreciate its scarcity value and the cost of supplying water,” he added.

Calling it “another step in enhancing the drought resilience and sustainability of our water supply”, Mr Masagos said desalinated water “plays an especially crucial role in ensuring a diversified and sustainable supply of water for everyone”.

Desalinated water is one of the four sources of the water supply here. The other three are imported water from Malaysia, NEWater and water from local catchments.

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Singapore turns vacant space into urban farms

Reuters 29 Jun 17;

Resource-scarce Singapore is turning vacant pockets of land into space for urban farming as the island city strives to ease its reliance on imported food.

The wealthy Southeast Asian city-state imports more than 90 percent of its food, much of it from neighboring countries, which can leave it exposed to potential supply chain disruptions.

Edible Garden City, a company with a grow-your-own-food message, has designed and built more than 50 food gardens in the tropical city for clients ranging from restaurants and hotels to schools and residences.

One of its projects is Citizen Farm, an 8,000 square meter plot that used to be a prison, converted into an urban farm "where the local community can learn and grow together", according to the project website.

Citizen Farm produces up to 100 kg of vegetables, 20 kg of herbs and 10-15 kg of mushrooms - enough to feed up to 500 people - a day.

It's tiny compared with demand for food in the country of 5.5 million people, but it's a start, said Darren Ho, head of the Citizen Farm initiative.

"No system will replace imports, we are here to make us more food resilient," said Ho, adding that it was "up to the community" to decide how self-sufficient it wants to be.

Government agencies are considering the company's urban farming concept for other parts of the city, including spaces around high-rise public housing.

(Reporting by Fathin Ungku)

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Over 50 species of native coastal plants to be introduced at Coney Island Park

Today Online 29 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE — Over 50 species of native coastal plants, including critically endangered species, will be introduced to a four-hectare plot of land at Coney Island Park over the next five years.

The five-year habitat enhancement programme is a collaboration between the National Parks Board (NParks) and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited (OCBC Bank), which will see primarily OCBC Bank management and staff donating S$250,000 to the fund the programme.

Among the species to be planted include the Small-leaved Nutmeg (Knema globularia), Silver Bush (Sophora tormentosa), and the Damak-damak Tahun (Scolopia macrophylla), which was believed to be extinct until its rediscovery on Coney Island Park in 2014.

NParks CEO Kenneth Er said: “(The Scolopia macrophylla) was previously last seen in 1953, more than 60 years ago. We subsequently found more individuals in its vicinity and took great care to conserve this rare find.

“OCBC volunteers helped to propagate more Scolopia saplings last month, so that we can re-introduce more of the plants here,” he added.

From May 31, OCBC volunteers have been partnering NParks staff to Coney Island Park to locate and propagate several endangered plant species.

OCBC Group CEO Samuel Tsien, who requested interesting and attractive plants be introduced as part of the habitat enhancement programme, said: “I want (our families, friends, and beneficiaries from our charity partners) to experience the excitement, and, for the older people, the pleasant recall of their childhood days – when they don’t have interactive cyber games such as Counterstrike, or Candy Crush to engage in, but interacting with the nature at parks and gardens which was part of the (growing) up process.”

Under the programme, more Scolopia specimens will be introduced to help re-establish a population. This, together with the other species, will make it the most diverse habitat enhancement project planned for the 50-hectare Coney Island Park since its opening in 2015, NParks and OCBC said in a joint statement on Thursday (June 29).

In turn, the seeds from the initial batch will help to regenerate and natural ecosystem and build plant diversity in the area, which will provide habitat for fauna such as the Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, the Spotted Wood Owl and dragonflies like the Sultan and Lined Forest-Skimmer.

Donations from OCBC will also help to add additional features such as trails and benches to Coney Island Park in a sensitive manner.

“Conservation requires long-term effort from everyone, and such initiatives to enhance habitats are integral to our overall plan to conserve our native biodiversity,” said Mr Er.

“This project will go a long way in helping the natural ecosystem of Coney Island Park to recover and thrive.”

NParks partners OCBC in plant-restoration project
Yap Li Yin Straits Times 30 Jun 17;

The twin-apple tree, which is considered locally extinct in Singapore, has been planted back on the island, using saplings propagated from a mother tree that was kept in a National Parks Board (NParks) nursery for more than a decade.

Also known as Ochrosiaoppositifolia, two saplings of the species were planted in Coney Island Park yesterday at the launch of a programme which aims to introduce 50 species of coastal plants there over the next five years.

The twin-apple tree produces a fruit that looks like two green apples fused together.

Launched in partnership with OCBC Bank, the programme is part of NParks' ongoing habitat-enhancement efforts under the Nature Conservation Masterplan (NCMP).

The NCMP, announced in 2015, lays out Singapore's biodiversity conservation roadmap until 2020.

NParks said the project is one of the most diverse habitat-enhancement projects planned for Coney Island so far.

Other rare species such as the damak-damak tahun (Scolopiamacrophylla) - which was believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 2014 - will also be introduced to a 4ha land area.

Prior to the launch of the programme, site assessments had been carried out by NParks to document and understand the health of the habitats, and to determine suitable restoration techniques.

The plants introduced will then act as seed sources for the subsequent regeneration of the natural ecosystem.

"While we are only working on a 4ha plot of land, this can become a catalyst for the dispersal of the plants to the entire island," said NParks group director of parks Chuah Hock Seong.

Staff volunteers from OCBC will be working with NParks on different aspects of the habitat-enhancement process, from the collection and propagation of the plants, to outreach efforts such as conducting learning expeditions.

The bank management and staff also donated $250,000 to the Garden City Fund, a registered charity established by NParks, to support this programme.

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Malaysia: Death knell for Hawksbill turtles

R.S.N. MURALI The Star 30 Jun 17;

MELAKA: The endangered Hawks­bill turtle population in Melaka that is being threatened by sea reclamation, hunting and habitat destruction, is facing another major threat – fishing nets.

Melaka Fishery Department officer Doreen Wee Siew Leen said 13 Hawksbills were found dead between January and June along the beach stretching from Kem Terendak in Sungai Udang to Kuala Linggi.

“Most of these deaths occurred when the turtles get entangled in fishing nets.

“We managed to nurse back to health two which were found alive on the beach and released them back to the sea,” she said yesterday.

Wee said the enforcement unit continues to patrol the identified hotspots to act against the culprits.

“Our main targets are those who drop their nets illegally along the marine path used by the turtle to their nesting spots,” she said.

Wee said illegal fishermen found deploying nets along the Melaka coastline would have their equipment seized on the spot and punitive actions taken against them.

“Our enforcement is keeping a close watch to stop these killings,” she said.

Wee said for the licensed fishermen, the department could only create awareness on the importance of protecting the turtle.

“We are constantly reminding our local fishermen on the importance of preserving the endangered sea turtle,” she said.

There were 4,570 turtle landings recorded between 2006 and 2016, with Pulau Upeh recording the highest landings of 704.

However, there were only 13 landings in Pulau Upeh in 2016, an island popular for turtle nesting, compared with 111 in 2011.

“This reveals that Pulau Upeh is losing its appeal to the Hawksbill due to various factors,” she said.

Surprisingly, the Padang Kemun­ting beachfront recorded an all-time high of 118 landings in 2016 compared with 55 to 107 annual landings between 2006 and 2015.

Wee said the coastal waters of Melaka were the focus of Hawksbill turtle to land and lay eggs, and if the habitat along the beach was affected, the number of turtle landings would also be affected.

She said the rangers appointed by the department to collect turtle eggs along the shorelines were doing their task well especially during nesting period; the eggs were sent to Turtle Conservation and Informa­tion Centre in Padang Kemunting to be hatched and released to the na­tural habitat.

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The Amazon's new danger: Brazil sets sights on palm oil

Brazil’s ambition to become a palm oil giant could have devastating social and environmental impacts if the move is not carefully managed, say experts
Tom Levitt in Brasília and Heriberto Araujo The Guardian 29 Jun 17;

Jorge Antonini takes a palm kernel in his hands and slices it open. Squeezing it between his fingers, the kernel oozes the oily liquid found in hundreds of everyday products, from cakes to chocolate spread.

The scientist is standing on a government-owned farm near the Brazilian capital of Brasília. Here, he and a small group of colleagues from Embrapa, the powerful state-owned agricultural research agency, are trialling different methods of growing oil palms to improve yield.

The project Antonini runs might be small scale but the government’s aims are anything but. Already a global agricultural powerhouse and the world’s largest exporter of beef, coffee, maize, soya and sugar, Brazil now wants to muscle its way into the lucrative palm oil trade.

“We want to compete with Indonesia and Malaysia,” says Antonini, Embrapa’s head of palm oil research, referring to the world’s two dominant producers of the commodity. Between them, Indonesia and Malaysia account for more than 80% of global production.

This might sound like a lofty ambition considering the country’s current production volumes. But Brazil’s palm oil industry is expanding, with potential for even bigger future growth.

The amount of land given over to oil palms doubled in Brazil between 2004 and 2010. It is forecast by Abrapalma, the body which represents palm oil producers in Brazil, to double again between now and 2025. Almost half of the land area of Brazil is suitable for growing oil palm, according to researchers, making it the number one country – they say – in terms of suitable land.

Such growth offers potential benefits for Brazil’s rural economy. But with most of this suitable land in the wildlife-rich, forested Amazon region in the north of the country, campaigners and observers fear Brazil’s ambitious plans for its palm oil sector will fuel a surge in landgrabbing, conflict and deforestation.

These fears have been reinforced by the current uncertainty in Brazilian politics. The former president Dilma Rousseff was impeached in 2016, while current president Michel Temer has been charged with corruption. In the midst of this turmoil, WWF is reporting that new legislation could rollback protections on the Amazon rainforest.

Brazil’s palm oil expansion dates back to 2010 under the government of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who launched a programme to map areas suitable for oil palm plantations and provide finance for farmers to start growing the crop.

With projected revenues of more than $90bn by 2021, the global palm oil market is a major income and development opportunity for rural Brazil. A farming family could increase its net income fourfold, the Brazilian government has estimated, by switching from staple crops such as cassava to oil palm.

Embrapa’s trial site is in the central Cerrado region of Brazil, a savannah landscape of extensive soy and cattle production which could be converted to producing oil palms – in some places, at least – if the trials are successful.

So far, however, palm oil production has been almost exclusively limited to the Amazonian state of Pará. This region offers an ideal climate of heat, sun and rain throughout the year, as well as cheaper land prices than the more agriculturally-developed, drier and more seasonal Cerrado region.

Abrapalma estimates that 207,000ha out of a total of 236,000ha of oil palm plantations in Brazil are in Pará, with the industry providing jobs for around 20,000 in the state and three times that number benefiting from indirect employment.

Embrapa researcher Lineu Neiva Rodrigues says Brazil could use palm oil to create biodiesel for the domestic market and eventually become a leading exporter.

But growth in this market is limited, with the current demand for biodiesel mainly in the southern part of Brazil, thousands of kilometres from Pará, says Marcelo Brito, president of Abrapalma and CEO of one of the country’s biggest palm oil producers, Agropalma.

The stall in the biodiesel sector was highlighted by Petrobas, Brazil’s biggest energy company, which entered a joint venture with Portugal’s Galp Energia in 2010 to produce and export palm oil from Brazil. However, the company announced last year it would be exiting the biofuels sector and focusing on oil and gas.

Even if the biofuels sector doesn’t take off as Embrapa hopes, Brito says palm oil production in Brazil will continue to expand to meet demand from the food and cosmetics industries. Brazil is currently a net importer of palm oil but, even with demand in the country growing, Brito expects it to be self-sufficient within the next one to two years.

This expansion could put at risk huge tracts of forested land in the Amazon region, home to the world’s largest tropical rainforest and at least 10% of global biodiversity, say conservationists.

Pará lost almost 8% of its forest cover between 2001 and 2015 to agriculture, according to Global Forest Watch:

But palm oil could offer a more productive land use if it replaced extensive, low-yielding, livestock farming, says Rhett Butler, founder of the widely-respected Mongabay conservation website.

“The opportunity in Brazil is converting cattle pastures to oil palm, but the fear is converting forest to oil palm,” he says.

Such fears have already been realised over the border in Peru. A report from the Environmental Investigation Agency in 2015 linked large commercial companies to illegal deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon for oil palm cultivation.

In Brazil, scientists have criticised moves to allow oil palm plantations to count towards compliance for restoring and protecting forested land, saying they host few native species.

As well as deforestation, there is a social impact too. The expansion of palm plantations in the state has led to a rise in land prices and disputes, says Elielson Pereira da Silva, who is researching palm oil production at the Federal University of Pará.

While there is not evidence of palm oil leading to an increase of violence in the state, researchers say growing interest in the sector could escalate a current spate of land-related killings in the Amazon region, already labelled a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

In 2016 the number of killings linked to land conflicts in Brazil reached 61 – the highest number since 2003. In May, a local farm leader in Pará was reported to have been murdered in front of her grandson in a dispute over land ownership on a former oil palm plantation.

Even for those farmers who sign up to long-term supply contracts with palm oil companies, the benefits are not necessarily clear cut.

“This is a kind of land grabbing, because the farmer can’t change their production during this period,” says Pereira da Silva. “[Palm oil] companies promise them up to 4,000 reais (£970) per month but, in many cases, the farmers get indebted with the company that provides them with supplies, such as fertilisers and seed.”

Brito says Brazil should focus on positioning itself as a niche producer, where palm oil does not contribute to deforestation. “I think Brazil will never be a big palm oil producer, we will remain a medium producer.”

Other countries, he says, would remain more attractive for investors because of less restrictive labour and forest protection legislation.

A gradual, rather than rapid, expansion of oil palms in the country, says Butler, would be the safest option for protecting against conflict and environmental degradation. “The opportunity is very large in Brazil, but we don’t want a wild west type expansion.”

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Stop exporting plastic waste to China to boost recycling at home, say experts

Governments must end incentives that see plastic waste shipped abroad, where it is often buried or burned, rather than being turned back into bottles at home, say industry leaders
Sandra Laville and Matthew Taylor The Guardian 29 Jun 17;

Governments must stop exporting so much plastic waste to countries such as China and keep more in-country to be recycled into bottles to tackle the waste crisis, industry insiders say.

A day after the Guardian revealed that a million plastic bottles are bought every minute across the world, experts aiming to provide a closed loop in which each bottle is used to make a new one, say their industry faces multiple hurdles.

Chris Brown of Clean Tech, based in Lincolnshire – the only site in the UK which produces food grade recycled polyethylene terephthalate (Pet) from plastic bottles to turn them into new bottles – said: “It has been a very challenging environment.”

“The recycling of Pet back into rPet (recycled plastic) is a relatively new industry and it has proven very difficult for any businesses to survive in recycled plastics. The margins are such that they struggle to be successful, particularly when the processes require large capital investment and present a significant technological challenge.”

He called for the UK government to end the incentives for export of post consumer plastic to China and other countries – more than two-thirds of plastic collected for recycling in the UK was sold abroad in 2016, where it may be incinerated or buried rather than recycled.

“Being able to keep more of that material in this country would be better for the bottle manufacturers and their customers,” he said. “It is important that the feedstock is available for rPet producers, so what we would like to see is an end to the incentivising of its export. Having an incentive to export the bales instead of keeping them in the country to be used to make more plastic bottles does not seem like what we should be doing at the moment.”

Clean Tech buys bales of post consumer plastic (Pet) bottles that have been collected in kerbside recycling. At its site in Lincolnshire, Clean Tech granulises the bales, sorts out the Pet from other plastic which might have contaminated the bale, turns it into new plastic pellets of recycled Pet and puts it through a process to make it safe to be used for drinks. Bales are then sold to companies – including Coca-Cola – who use it to make new bottles.

Its parent company, Plastipak is the biggest producer of recycled plastic for bottles in Europe.

A spokesperson for Plastipak said its three plants in Europe – in the UK, in Bearne in France and in Luxemburg – faced challenges. Urgent reform was needed to keep the recycled plastic bales in-country, the spokesperson said.

“This should be a growth industry. Everyone wants to recycle and everyone, in theory, wants to include recycled material in products. But this is a process that costs money, it is a commercial venture and one of the big hindrances is the cost of virgin material has been lower than the cost of recycled plastic partly because of the low oil price,” they said.

In the UK particularly there is a shortage of post consumer plastic to turn into recycled plastic for bottles because the collection systems are so poor. But the lack of stocks for creating recycled plastic is a global problem.

“There is also competition for this stock – it is used for other things like the plastic tape around packages,” said the spokesperson.

Industry experts say the UK should follow the example of countries that impose a deposit return scheme on plastic bottles, which encourages higher recycling rates.

Caroline Lucas, the UK Green MP said Guardian figures which show by 2021 more than half a trillion plastic bottles will be bought across the globe, were shocking. “Global plastic bottle use is spiralling out of control. The environmental consequences of a million plastic bottles being used every minute are absolutely devastating,” said Lucas.

“As consumers we can all make choices which limit our plastic bottle use, but the key to solving this crisis is action from governments. That’s why I’m calling for a bottle deposit scheme to be implemented urgently. Currently Britain uses 38.5m plastic bottles every day – and we should be leading the world in reusing bottles and rapidly reducing our plastic waste.”

Greenpeace is pressing for the major brands to do more to increase the recycled content of their bottles. The top six drinks companies in the world use a combined average of just 6.6% of recycled Pet in their products, according to Greenpeace. Many believe Coca-Cola and other brands are not ready to increase the amount of recycled plastic because it would compromise the appearance of their bottles.

Across the UK Coca-Cola says it uses 25% of recycled plastic in its bottles. It aims to increase this to 40% by 2020.

But Coca-Cola said the 40% target would stretch with the current volumes of recycled plastic of the right quality available.

“Coca-Cola buys approximately 20% of the global food grade rPet supply available in the marketplace,” the company said. “We continue to increase the use of recycled plastic in countries where it is feasible and permitted.”

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'Very strong' climate change signal in record June heat in the UK and Western Europe

Matt McGrath BBC News 30 Jun 17;

The June heat waves that impacted much of the UK and Western Europe were made more intense because of climate change say scientists.

Forest fires in Portugal claimed scores of lives while emergency heat plans were triggered in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Britain experienced its warmest June day since the famous heat wave of 1976.

Human-related warming made record heat 10 times more likely in parts of Europe the researchers say.

During June, mean monthly temperatures about 3C above normal were recorded across western parts of the continent. France experienced its hottest June night ever on 21st when the average around the country was 26.4C.

That same day had seen the mercury hit 34.5 at Heathrow in what was the UK's warmest June day for 40 years.

It was a similar story in the Netherlands which is set to have its hottest June on record while in Switzerland it was the second warmest since 1864.

Now, researchers with World Weather Attribution have carried out a multi-method analysis to assess the role of warming connected to human activities in these record temperatures.

"We simulate what is the possible weather under the current climate and then we simulate what is the possible weather without anthropogenic climate change, and then we compare these two likelihoods which gives us the risk ratio," Dr Friederike Otto from the University of Oxford, one of the study's authors, told BBC News.

"We found a very strong signal."

That signal, according to the authors, made heat waves at least 10 times more likely in Spain and Portugal.

Fires resulted in the deaths of 64 people in Portugal, while in Spain they forced the removal of around 1,500 people from holiday accommodation and homes.

In Central England, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands the intensity and frequency of such extreme heat was four times as likely because of climate change, the study says.

"We found clear and strong links between this month's record warmth and human-caused climate change," said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, senior researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).

"Local temperature records show a clear warming trend, even faster than in climate models that simulate the effects of burning fossil fuels but also solar variability and land use changes," van Oldenborgh added.

The researchers say their reported results on the impact made by human related warming are conservative in some ways. Their study indicated that in countries like Spain, Portugal and France, climate change could be increasing the chances of extreme heat by up to forty times.

The scientists believe that the chances of these extreme heat events becoming much more common will increase unless rapid steps are taken to reduce carbon emissions.

"Hot months are no longer rare in our current climate. Today we can expect the kind of extreme heat that we saw in June roughly every 10 to 30 years, depending on the country," said Robert Vautard, a researcher at the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences (LSCE), who was also involved in the study.

"By the middle of the century, this kind of extreme heat in June will become the norm in Western Europe unless we take immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The researchers are calling on city leaders in particular to work with scientists and public health experts to develop heat action plans.

While, usually, researchers wait to publish research like this in a peer-reviewed journal, the team felt that speed was necessary to inform public debate.

"When extreme events happen, the question is always asked 'what's the role of climate change?' and often the statement is made by a politician or by someone with a political agenda and not based on scientific evidence," said Dr Otto.

"Our aim is to provide that for the role of climate change, to show what you can robustly say within the time frame when people are discussing the event."

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