Climate Change

Why China is being ravaged by climate change

Massive floods collide with an energy crisis in the world’s second-largest economy.

China is not only suffering an energy crisis. It is also being ravaged by the fallout of climate change.

Nearly two million people have been affected by severe flooding in the northern province of Shanxi.

Torrential rain has wrecked homes and factories, triggering massive landslides across the region.

Last week’s storms also struck as vast areas of China grapple with an energy shortage, sparking wide-scale power cuts.

“Some areas in [the] southern parts of Shanxi have suffered heavy food losses and landslides. It will take a long time to recover from the disaster,” Yuan Shan, of Blue Sky Rescue, a nonprofit civil organization in China, told state-run Global Times on October 10.

Damage control:

  • Taiyuan, the provincial capital of Shanxi, reported average rainfall of 185.6 millimeters last week.
  • That compared to 25 mm during the annual October period between 1981 and 2010.
  • More than 70 districts and cities in the province have been hit by massive landslides.
  • At least 17,000 homes have collapsed across Shanxi, Xinhua, the official news agency of the ruling Communist Party, reported.
  • Production has ground to a halt at 60 coal mines, 372 non-coal mines and 14 dangerous chemical factories, Shanxi’s provincial government told China’s media.

Areas undergoing rapid urbanization are experiencing a steep rise in risk.

Dr Liu Junyan, the climate and energy project leader for Greenpeace East Asia’s Beijing office

Climate crisis: A report released in July by Greenpeace warned that China faces “extreme heat and rainfall” across major metropolitan regions. At-risk cities included Beijing, Shanghai and the high-tech hub of Shenzhen.

What was said: “Not all communities experience the same impact from climate change. Local governments need to support at-risk communities. Areas undergoing rapid urbanization are experiencing a steep rise in risk,” Dr Liu Junyan, the climate and energy project leader for Greenpeace East Asia’s Beijing office, said.

Blowing a fuse: Last month, China revealed it was facing an energy emergency with major power cuts threatening economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Power points: “Governments of various levels should [consider] the practical needs of enterprises, businesses and residents before limiting or cutting the power supply,” state-controlled China Daily warned in an editorial.

Running on empty: Since then, nothing has changed with Goldman Sachs estimating that 44% of China’s industrial activity has been hit by the electricity squeeze. That could wipe out two percentage points of annualized GDP growth in the fourth quarter.

China Factor comment: The “economic miracle” that has transformed the country has come at a colossal price. Pollution, environmental damage and an overloaded energy network have crashed into a global climate change crisis. Fixing the problems will seriously challenge President Xi Jinping’s regime.

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