China faces heat wave devastation on electricity, crops and livestock

  • Falling temperatures in some regions but still breaking records
  • Regions do more to protect crops and livestock
  • Longest heatwave in China’s history heightens climate emergency – experts

SHANGHAI, Aug 24 (Reuters) – Extreme heat in China wreaked havoc on Wednesday despite falling temperatures in some areas as authorities in the Yangtze River Basin scrambled to limit climate change damage to electricity, crops and cattle.

China’s 70-day heat wave is the longest and most widespread on record, with around 30% of the 600 weather stations along the Yangtze River recording their highest temperatures on record last Friday.

The southwest region of Chongqing was particularly affected. One resident, Zhang Ronghai, said his water and electricity were cut off after a four-day mountain fire in Jiangjin district.

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“People have to go to a power center more than 10 km (6 miles) away to charge their phone,” Zhang said.

On Wednesday, footage shared on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service showed residents and volunteers in Chongqing and Sichuan struggling and even passing out in intense heat during mandatory COVID-19 testing.

The Chongqing agriculture bureau has also drawn up emergency measures to protect livestock at more than 5,000 large-scale pig farms, which have faced “serious challenges” due to the heat, it said. official media.

Crop damage and water shortage could “spread to other food-related sectors, leading to substantial price increases or a food crisis in the worst case,” said Lin Zhong, a professor at the City University of Hong Kong which studied the impact. of climate change on agriculture in China.

China’s National Meteorological Center lowered its national heat warning to “orange” on Wednesday after 12 consecutive days of “red alerts”, but temperatures are still expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in Chongqing, Sichuan and other parts of other parts of the Yangtze basin.

A weather station in Sichuan recorded a temperature of 43.9 C on Wednesday, the highest on record in the province, official forecasters said on their Weibo channel.

WAKE CALL

China has warned that it is particularly vulnerable to climate change and that natural disasters are expected to proliferate in coming years due to more unstable weather patterns. Read more

As the drought drags on, state media has turned its attention to the impact of climate change on other countries.

“Climate change is once again a wake-up call for the world,” the official journal of China’s corruption watchdog said on Tuesday, adding that devastating heat waves and droughts had hit the country. Europe, Africa and North America in recent weeks.

China, the world’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming, has pledged to peak CO2 by 2030 and become “carbon neutral” by 2060, and it is also advancing in the development of renewable energies.

But drought has eroded hydropower generation and coal-fired power is on the rise again, with power plants in Anhui province increasing output by 12% compared to normal years. Read more

Li Shuo, climate adviser at Greenpeace in Beijing, warned that power shortages “could easily be used as an argument to build more coal-fired power plants”, but said a summer of extremes across the world could prompt to take more action.

Prospects for international cooperation to tackle climate change have dimmed after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit this month to Taiwan, a self-governing island that China claims as its own. .

In response, an angry China called off climate talks with the United States, shutting down an important channel that helped drive greener policies.

China said the climate cannot be separated from broader diplomatic issues. The Foreign Ministry said last week in the United States that it should end the boycott of solar energy products from the Xinjiang region and provide funds to help developing countries adapt.

The United States has banned imports from Xinjiang in an effort to protect the US market from products potentially tainted with human rights abuses. China denies that abuses are taking place.

“If recent events don’t focus minds, it’s hard to know what will,” said Mark Beeson, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney who studies global climate policy, of the prospects for cooperation. international.

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Reporting by David Stanway and newsrooms in Beijing and Shanghai; Editing by Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

China faces heat wave devastation on electricity, crops and livestock

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