China faces unprecedented climate change risks

Key report highlights the challenges ahead as the country grapples with rising temperatures and sea levels 

China is facing an unprecedented climate change challenge.

Data released earlier this month in the annual Blue Book report showed that the country is “warming faster than the rest of the world.”

The “alarming overview” highlighted the “wide-ranging climate impact” from “rising sea levels” to “melting glaciers in 2021,” China Dialogue, an independent organization dedicated to environmental risks, revealed.

Sifting through the findings from the Blue Book study, China Dialogue reported:

  • Between 1951 to 2021, the average annual surface temperature rose at a pace of 0.26C per decade. 
  • The global average was 0.15C per decade during the same period. 
  • The past two decades were the warmest for China since the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Last year was the hottest on record since 1901.

What was said: “China, which is vulnerable to climate change, has experienced a faster temperature rise than the global average,” Yuan Jiashuang, the deputy director of the National Climate Center and the Blue Book’s associate editor, told state-run China Daily.

Extreme weather events have occurred more frequently as climatic risks rise.

Yuan Jiashuang, of the National Climate Center and the Blue Book’s associate editor

Delve deeper: But as “China gets hotter, it is also becoming wetter,” China Dialogue stressed:

  • Extreme weather events are increasing, particularly heat waves and storms. 
  • Sea levels are also rising and are more accentuated in China.

By the numbers: They have been rising “by 3.4 millimeters yearly since 1980, faster than the global average of 3.3 millimeters per year.”

But then, it is not just rising sea levels, China Dialogue warned:

  • In the western part of the country, 2021 witnessed some of the most significant annual glacier retreats on record. 
  • The west end of Urumqi Heyuan 1 glacier retreated 8.5 meters in a year.

Climate risks: “Extreme weather events, including torrential rains and scorching temperatures, have occurred more frequently as climatic risks rise,” Yuan, of the National Climate Center, said as reported by China Daily.

China Factor comment: Beijing has pledged that China will be carbon neutral before 2060. But that timeline risks being submerged by a growing climate change crisis.

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