(Bloomberg) -- Sweltering temperatures across China are killing livestock and stretching power grids, an early heat wave that portends another summer of disruption for Asia’s industry and food supply.
The mercury has been rising in nearly every corner of the world’s second-largest economy. In southern regions, electricity demand hit peak levels in late May, a month earlier than last year, while Beijing in the north is expected to see temperatures hit a high of 37C (98F) on Wednesday. Shanghai broke a 150-year-old record for the highest-ever May temperature last week.
The scorching weather is proving particularly dangerous to animals. Hundreds of pigs have been dying in Jiangsu province and farmed fish perished as water temperatures soared in Guangxi, according to reports in local media. In Sichuan, the heat is killing rabbits, causing a surge in the price of spicy rabbit heads, a popular street food dish.
Extreme heat is unusual so early in the summer, and particularly treacherous, given neither humans nor animals have adjusted. It is, though, becoming more common as the climate changes. That’s posing a grave risk to agriculture and industrial activity in China, especially around the Yangtze river basin, the country’s major rice-producing region, badly hit by water scarcity in 2022.
Industrial activity has already been curtailed for months in parts of China because of droughts affecting hydroelectric output. Hotter weather in provinces including Guangdong is prompting some of China’s liquefied natural gas importers to seek shipments from the spot market, according to traders with knowledge of the matter.
Blistering spring and early summer months have already been testing the resilience of much of South and Southeast Asia. Vietnam is battling its worst-ever power shortage, as heat compounds low coal supply, depleted reservoirs and failures at old power plants. Truong Thu My, research director of energy and utilities at Ho Chi Minh City Securities Corp., said Tuesday that it was the first time rolling blackouts have hit industrial parks, while outages in residential areas are longer and in the evenings.
Bangladesh too is grappling with blackouts amid a coal shortage, suspending school classes for much of this week. A massive coal power plant is slated to remain shut through the end of the month after the nation wasn’t able to open a letter of credit for fuel imports.
Blackouts in Myanmar have also intensified since April due to falling hydropower output and dwindling natural gas imports, upending industries and threatening hours of outages for households.
China has so far avoided any large-scale power cuts, but the heat hasn’t left shoppers immune, prompting night markets to fill up and beer sales to rise. Delivery giant Meituan reported a 44% increase in ice cream sales last week from the previous month. Air conditioner sales, meanwhile, have increased 95% from the previous year, China Securities News reported on Tuesday.
--With assistance from Stephen Stapczynski, Ann Koh, Hallie Gu and Sanjit Das.
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