HONG KONG —
A new report by the Chinese government predicts dire consequences for China from climate change. The report summing up the views of more than 500 scientists and experts was released on the eve of climate talks in Paris.
China’s Ministry of Science and Technology released the 900 page paper titled, “The Third National Climate Change Assessment Report,” which details the serious consequences that global warming will have on China.
The report predicts a 40 to 60 centimeter rise in sea levels, putting China’s prosperous coastal cities in jeopardy. Melting glaciers and permafrost also threaten massive infrastructure projects such as the Three Gorges Dam and the high-altitude rail link to Tibet.
FILE - A view from the Three Gorges dam over the Yangtze River in Yichang, Hubei province August 9, 2012. The environmental problems associated with the Three Gorges dam illustrate China's energy dilemma: To move away from its reliance on coal-fired power plants, Beijing says it has to develop cleaner forms of power.
China is the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases, and emits nearly twice the pollution of the United States. Li Yan, program director for Greenpeace, says China may have the most to gain from any climate change agreement during the Paris talks.
“One thing is very clear from the very authoritative science report. China is already one of the biggest victims of climate change itself, and taking strong actions against climate change is in China’s own interest, I think that has been confirmed again and again,” said Li Yan.
About 150 heads of state and government are meeting in Paris for the U.N. Conference on Climate Change, or COP21.
One-hundred-ninety-five countries aim to arrive at an agreement to prevent the Earth from warming two degrees. If global warming continues, China predicts cross-border migration and international conflict over water resources. China’s report says water resources in the country will shrink five percent.
Gavin Edwards, director of conservation for the World Wildlife Fund in Hong Kong, says China’s scientific assessment of climate change gives environmentalists hope that it will be a progressive leader at this week’s talks.
“Some of the ideas that they have put down on the table give us some hope that they are moving in the right direction and setting what I would say is a positive tone for the discussions in Paris as well,” he said.
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting held on the sidelines of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Nov. 30, 2015.
China blocked an effective climate change agreement at COP15 in Copenhagen, but has markedly changed its stance on global warming since then. A year ago, China’s President Xi Jinping met with U.S. President Barack Obama and pledged that China’s greenhouse gas emissions would peak by 2030.
Environmentalist Ma Jun says China has emerged as a leading global power in efforts to reduce global warming.
“China can find a way to overcome the industrial barriers and find a way to adopt a more proactive assessment, a more proactive decision, to combat climate change that will hopefully encourage other countries and regions to come together,” said Ma Jun.
2014 was the hottest year on record. The climate talks in Paris will end on December 11.