Chinese Report Warns of Global Warming Threat
Global warming will cause China to suffer from dire food and drinking water shortages, with water supply imbalances, severe weather events and rising temperatures, according to a report compiled by Chinese scientists under government supervision. The report projects that the cost of growing food will increase, and that grain production in the country of 1.4 billion will decline between 5 and 20 percent by mid-century. Despite the serious potential consequences of unchecked global warming, the report predicts that China’s greenhouse gas emissions will only begin to decline around 2030, with significant declines not coming until 2050 or so.
Government Sets Sights on Carbon Caps
China has committed to significant reductions in carbon intensity — a measure of carbon emissions by unit of GDP — aiming to decrease carbon intensity by 40-45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels. This week the Chinese government recently directed five provinces and two cities to declare and attain overall emissions caps. In addition to setting hard limits, the seven cities and provinces – Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangdong, Hubei and Shenzhen – will establish a carbon rights exchange, in effect a carbon trading scheme, similar to the European Emissions Trading Scheme. The plan also calls for the building of low-carbon development zones and residential communities.
No National Target for the U.S.
China is the the world’s largest overall emitter of greenhouse gases, followed by the U.S., which has a population one-quarter the size of China’s.The U.S. has no national carbon reduction goals, though legislation in California, the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), requires the state to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels (427 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent ) by 2020.
Beijing Government Bows to Public Pressure on Dirty Air Numbers
In another sign of changing attitudes, the Beijing government has begun posting more accurate measurements of air quality in the capital, following public pressure and a social media effort spearheaded by the U.S. Embassy. For months citizens have been complaining about the disparity between the official air quality measurements and the readings by meters placed by the US Embassy and broadcast via a Twitter account, @BeijingAir (currently with over 17,000 followers.) The government readings will be adjusted to include smaller particles that were not being counted. On some days, the old government measurements touted healthy air quality even while the city was blanketed in smog.
Photo: Haze over eastern China. NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response, public domain