August 1, 2007 / 9:20 AM / 12 years ago

China blames climate change for extreme weather

BEIJING (Reuters) - China blamed global warming on Wednesday for this year’s weather extremes, which have led to more than 700 deaths from flooding and left more than seven million with little access to water.

A villager who is stranded in a flooding river is rescued in Yuanqu county, north China's Shanxi province July 30, 2007. Global warming is partly to blame for this year's weather extremes in China, which have led to more than 700 deaths from flooding and left millions of others without water, an official said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Stringer

Such extremes are likely to get worse and more common in the future, said Song Lianchun, head of the China Meteorological Administration’s Department of Forecasting Services and Disaster Mitigation.

“It should be said that one of the reasons for the weather extremes this year has been unusual atmospheric circulation bought about by global warming,” Song told a news conference carried live on the central government Web site (www.gov.cn).

“These kind of extremes will become more frequent, and more obvious. This has already been borne out by the facts,” he said. “I think the impact on our country will definitely be very large.”

Some parts of China have had too much rain, and others too little this summer.

About 7.5 million people are suffering from drought in a wide swathe of the country which includes Jiangxi and Hunan in the south to Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces in the northeast, Xinhua news agency said.

In Jiangxi, Hunan and Heilongjiang, more than one third of agricultural land has been hit, the report added.

Temperatures have been topping out at about 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), which has strained power grids.

“Analysts expect that over the coming period, drought-affected areas will remain hot and have little rain, the drought will spread and get more serious,” Xinhua said.

RAINSTORMS

Meanwhile, storms in the northern province of Shanxi have killed more than 20 people and destroyed more than 4,000 homes. In one county of the province, it rained for 36 hours non-stop starting from Saturday evening.

Another 26 died and 26 were missing in the neighboring province of Shaanxi after rainstorms over the past few days, while 21 were killed and 61 were missing in central Henan, Xinhua said.

China is rapidly overtaking the United States to become the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases. It is under rising international pressure to accept mandatory caps on carbon dioxide emissions from its factories and vehicles.

China has refused to comply, but the government has shown greater efforts in addressing energy and environment issues.

Beijing also argues that unless the United States is made to cap its carbon emissions, it will not follow suit.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi stuck to that position at an ASEAN security meeting in Manila.

“Global climate change is mostly a result of the long history of emissions and the current high per capita emissions of developed countries,” he was quoted by spokeswoman Jiang Yu as saying.

“Therefore, developed countries should continue to lead efforts to lower emissions after 2012, transfer technology to developing countries and promote sustainable development in developing countries,” he added.

“Developing countries’ historical greenhouse gas emissions have been low, and they are emissions for survival and development,” Yang said.

Additional reporting by John Ruwitch in Manila

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