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Extreme weather: Greenpeace warns of climate risks in China | Climate News

China’s major urban centers, including the capital Beijing and its most populous city, Shanghai, are expected to face hotter, longer summers, and wetter rainy seasons. A new study by Greenpeace maps extreme weather caused by climate change Conditions, warned on Wednesday.

Greenpeace East Asia stated that the current risks of extreme heat and rainfall are highest in densely populated city centres, but this risk is growing rapidly in communities that are becoming more and more urbanized on the outskirts of major cities in the country.

This may mean that the elderly and those who work outdoors are more exposed to dangerous heat waves Flooding in Shanghai and other citiesLiu Junyan, head of Beijing’s Greenpeace Climate and Energy Project, said he called on the authorities to take more effective measures to prepare for this situation.

“Urban areas still do not fully understand the types of changes, which changes will affect which areas and how, and it is enough to prepare for them,” Liu told Al Jazeera.

The study found that Beijing’s average temperature is experiencing “the biggest rise”, rising at a rate of 0.32 degrees Celsius (0.58 degrees Fahrenheit) every 10 years. Since 2000, the frequency of heat waves has increased “significantly”.

The study added that considering that global emissions are expected to peak around 2040, the temperature rise in some parts of Beijing may exceed 2.6 degrees Celsius (4.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, and the summer will be extended by 28 days.

“For Beijing, we know that the temperature rise this time will look like the temperature is 35 degrees [Celcius] Or higher temperature,” Liu said.

“It is vital that the temperature rise of 2.6 degrees means more exposure to heat waves. Older people are at risk, as are people who engage in arduous outdoor work, such as construction workers and delivery drivers.”

According to some weather monitors and news reports, in February this year, the temperature in certain areas soared to 25.5 degrees Celsius (78 degrees Fahrenheit)-the highest recorded in winter.

Greenpeace stated that the summer in Shanghai will also be extended by 24 to 28 days, and the summer in southern Guangdong Province will be extended to more than 40 days. The extreme rainfall in parts of Shanghai and Guangdong Province will also increase by more than 25%, while the northwestern part of the region will experience more droughts.

Prior to Greenpeace’s warning, similar studies showed that extreme heat associated with climate change led to increased risks in China.

A study published in the journal Nature Communications in July 2018 stated that Frequency and intensity of heat waves In the past 50 years, there has been a “significant increase” observed in China. It also warned that by 2100, as many as 400 million people in northern China, including Beijing, will be affected by the deadly heat wave.

A report published in December 2020 by the respected medical journal The Lancet stated that China’s heat wave-related death rate “increased four-fold from 1990 to 2019, and the death toll reached 26,800 in 2019”.

The worst polluter

On Monday, “Sustainable Cities Frontier” magazine stated that Beijing and Shanghai are 23 Chinese cities among the top 25 urban centers in the world, and they generate 52% of the climate warming gas each year.

The list also includes Tokyo and Moscow. Cities from the United States, Europe, and Australia still lead in per capita emissions, although several Chinese cities, such as Yinchuan and Dalian, and Urumqi in Xinjiang, also have per capita emissions close to developed countries. The pollution monitoring of Sun Yat-sen University and Guangdong Province are both in Guangzhou.

In September 2020, President Xi Jinping stated that China’s goal is to achieve a peak in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2060, which is part of China’s commitment to curb climate change.

Guangzhou’s vast urban area is located on the southern coast of China. It occupies a prominent position in the Greenpeace East Asia study, which found that 73 of the 98 heat waves in the region in the past 60 years occurred after 1998.

The report pointed out that the average number of days of extreme high temperature (35C/95F or higher) in Guangzhou has risen from 16.5 days per year to 23.7 days per year.

Summer in 2019, Beijing elderly people use electric fans to cool down [File: Fred Dufour/AFP]

Research by Greenpeace predicts that the average temperature change in the southernmost part of Guangdong Province will be as high as 2C (35.6F), effectively extending the summer by more than 40 days.

In May of this year, rising temperatures caused a shortage of electricity in Guangdong Province, prompting local authorities to restrict electricity use, which also affected the productivity of the manufacturing industry.

“According to the electricity curtailment policy, we were told to suspend production for two days a week,” a worker surnamed Miao from a copper factory in the province told the state-run Global Times. As a result, the factory’s scheduled delivery date was delayed.

From extreme heat to devastating floods

Due to the extreme high temperature, Guangdong Province is also expected to face more severe floods during the rainy season. Greenpeace said that in the southeast of the province where Shenzhen is located, extreme rainfall will increase sharply, and extreme rainfall in the worst-hit areas will increase by more than 25%.

Similarly, Shanghai and surrounding areas in the Yangtze River Delta are also facing severe flooding caused by extreme rainfall.

From 1961 to 2019, the average accumulated rainfall in the Yangtze River Delta region of Shanghai was 1225.6 mm (48.3 inches). Although it has been fluctuating over the years, Greenpeace stated that it has been “steadily growing” at an overall rate of 34.6 mm (1.4 inches) every 10 years.

The year with the highest rainfall was 2016, with a cumulative rainfall of 1666.9 mm (65.6 inches).

According to Greenpeace, cities with the highest population and economic density, such as Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, and Ningbo, are particularly vulnerable to extreme rainfall.

Aerial photos showing the Yangtze River in Wuhan, Hubei Province, central China during the July 2020 flood [File: Stringer/China Out via AFP]

“Floods are already a serious problem in Shanghai, and we expect more floods in the future, and the destructive effects of floods will be even greater,” Liu said.

In 2020, Severe floods affected many cities along the Yangtze River, The longest river in Asia. According to government data, in the country’s worst floods in 30 years, more than 140 people were killed, 38 million people were affected, and 28,000 houses were destroyed.

OhLiu pointed out that areas that have not experienced too many floods in Chinese history, such as Hetian in Xinjiang, also known as Hetian, have also been attacked.

The Shanghai metropolis and surrounding urbanized areas are also experiencing rising temperatures.

In Hangzhou, southwest of Shanghai, in the past 60 years, the temperature has reached 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) or above 429 times, of which 177 (41% of the total) have occurred since 2001.

The highest temperature recorded by the Hangzhou Meteorological Station was 41.6C (106.88F) in 2013, followed by 41.3C (106.34F) in 2017.

Greenpeace’s Liu said that China’s major cities should predict and prepare for weather disruptions, adding that “scientific and systematic investigations” of the impact of climate change are needed.

He also said that small cities with the fastest growing risk of extreme weather also need to be better prepared for different types of climate risks.

“Cities need to monitor comprehensively and develop early warning systems for vulnerable communities and important infrastructure. Faced with this risk, the interaction of science and policy will determine whether vulnerable communities can receive proper attention and care,” Liu said.

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