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China faces heatwave damage to electricity, crops and livestock

David Steinway

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Extreme heat in China wreaked havoc on Wednesday despite cooler temperatures in some areas, authorities across the Yangtze River Basin said. All are scrambling to limit climate-related damage to electricity, crops and livestock.

China’s heatwave lasted 70 days, the longest and most extensive on record, with 600 weather events along the Yangtze River as of last Friday About 30 percent of the stations had record temperatures.

The southwest area of ​​Chongqing was particularly hard hit. Zhang Ronghai, a resident, said that water and electricity were cut off after four days of mountain fires in Jiangjin District.

“People need to travel to 10 kilometers ( 6 miles) away to charge the phone,” Zhang said.

Images shared on China’s Twitter-like microblogging service on Wednesday showed residents and volunteers in Chongqing and Sichuan struggling in the sweltering heat and even fainting during mandatory COVID-19 tests.

The Chongqing Agriculture Bureau has also instituted emergency measures to protect livestock on more than 5,000 large pig farms, which are facing “severe challenges” due to high temperatures, state media said.

Damage to crops and water shortages could “spread to other food-related sectors, leading to sharp price increases and, in the worst case, food crisis”, Lin Zhong, a professor at Beijing City University Say. Hong Kong studies the impact of climate change on Chinese agriculture.

The China National Meteorological Center on Wednesday downgraded its national high temperature warning to “orange” after 12 consecutive days of “red warnings,” but temperatures in Chongqing are still expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). degrees), Sichuan and other parts of the Yangtze River Basin.

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

Alarm bells are ringing

China has warned that it is particularly vulnerable to climate change, with a surge in natural disasters expected in the coming years due to more erratic weather.

As the drought continues, state media have turned their attention to the impact of climate change on other countries.

“Climate change has once again become a wake-up call – a call to the world,” the official newspaper of China’s anti-corruption watchdog said on Tuesday, adding that in recent weeks, devastating heatwaves and droughts have hit Europe, Africa and North America.

As the world’s largest source of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions, China is committed to peaking carbon dioxide by 2030, achieving “carbon neutrality” by 2060, and developing renewable energy.

But the drought has eroded hydropower, and thermal power is on the rise again, with power plants in Anhui up 12 percent from previous years.

Li Shuo, a climate adviser at Greenpeace in Beijing, warned that power shortages “can easily be used as a reason to build more coal-fired power plants,” but said extreme weather around the world in summer could prompt Take more action.

Prospects for international cooperation on climate change dimmed after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan this month. In response, an angry China called off climate talks with the United States, ending an important channel that helped push green policy.

China says climate issues are inseparable from broader diplomatic issues. The foreign ministry told the United States last week that boycotts of solar products in the Xinjiang region should be stopped and funds should be provided to help developing countries adapt.

The United States has banned the import of solar products from Xinjiang. Work to protect the U.S. market from products that may be tainted by human rights abuses. China denies abuse is taking place.

“It’s hard to know what’s going to happen if recent events aren’t focused,” University of Technology Sydney professor Mark Beeson, who studies global climate politics, said of the importance of international collaboration prospect.

(Reporting by David Steinway and newsrooms in Beijing and Shanghai; Editing by Robert Bursell and Nick McPhee)

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