High levels of greenhouse gases have been shown to contribute to climate change. As the largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, China is definitely going to feel the effects of a changing climate, according to the country's top weather official.
Zheng Guoguang is the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) chief. Issuing a stern warning about climate change, he said that as the temperature rises, China will be experiencing a huge impact as a result, such as reduced crop yield and unstable river flows. Over the past 100 years, temperature in the country's mainland has been increasing at rates beyond global averages.
"As the world warms, risks of climate change and climate disasters to China could become more grave," reiterated Zheng.
The CMA chief said climate change would seriously threaten big projects in the country, such as the Three Gorges Dam and a massive scheme geared toward diverting water from southern portions of China to areas north of the country to address water problems.
Zheng called on China to take a development path that accommodates the aim of lowering carbon emissions, but he also pointed out that the use of solar and wind energy in the country has limited potential.
Along with the United States, China accounts for about 45 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions in the world. The two countries have jointly agreed to reduce the amount of carbon emissions they produce. Experts believe the move will help since major contributors have taken the initiative to cut back. The pledge the U.S. and China made come ahead of the climate change summit to be held in Paris later in 2015.
An emphasis on economic growth by the ruling Communist party in China has led to high energy demand, with the use of coal particularly skyrocketing. Between 2000 and 2010, the country's coal use grew by 9 percent every year on average, but efforts are now in place to wean China from dependence on coal.
In Beijing, there is a push for schemes supporting use of alternative energy sources, but environmentalists have criticized facilities converting coal into gas as these have been reported to produce even more carbon emissions, doing more harm than good in the long run.
The CMA released the China National Assessment Report on Risk Management and Adaptation of Climate Extremes and Disasters at the 3rd United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. According to the report, China will be at higher risk of droughts, floods and elevated temperature levels by the end of the 21st century.
Photo: Audrey Covey | Flickr