April 20, 2011 / 10:19 AM / in 8 years

Rising sea levels trigger disasters in China: report

BEIJING (Reuters) - Gradually rising sea levels caused by global warming over the past 30 years have contributed to a growing number of disasters along China’s coast, state news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday.

Residents make their way on a flooded street in Qionghai, Hainan province, October 17, 2010. REUTERS/China Daily

Sea levels along China’s coastline had risen 2.6 mm per year over the past three decades, Xinhua said, citing documents from the State Oceanic Administration.

Average air and sea temperatures in coastal areas had risen about 0.4 and 0.2 degrees Celsius respectively over the past 10 years, the news agency added.

“As a ‘gradual’ marine disaster, the cumulative effect of rising sea levels could ‘aggravate storm tides, coastal erosion, seawater invasion and other disasters’,” Xinhua cited the oceanic administration as saying.

An expert at the administration, Liu Kexiu, said the rising sea levels were a result of global warming.

“Other key factors are land subsidence caused by human activities, including over-exploitation of groundwater and massive construction of high buildings in coastal areas,” Liu said.

China’s high and rapidly climbing output of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas pollutant from burning coal, oil and gas, has put it at the center of negotiations for a new world pact to reduce the emissions responsible for global warming.

The government has vowed to cut the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuels per unit of gross domestic product growth by 17 percent in the next five years.

But China has repeatedly said it will not accept a more stringent, absolute cap on total emissions, calling it an unfair burden on developing nations that have much lower emissions per person than rich economies. It has also refused to say when its emissions could peak and begin to fall.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in its last assessment report that China could be one of the biggest casualties of global warming in coming decades.

Northern regions faced dwindling water supplies, plunging crop yields and increasing sandstorms, while melting glaciers would increase flood risks in the south, it predicted.

Editing by Chris Lewis and Robert Birsel

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