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Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2007, 19:56 GMT 20:56 UK
China sees climate impacts ahead

Mountains. Image: AFP/Getty
Melting mountain glaciers could reduce the supply of fresh water
Climate change will bring major impacts to several regions of China, according to a major report from its government.

The National Climate Change Assessment Report sees higher temperatures causing droughts, spreading deserts and reducing water supplies.

But the report says China should not risk slowing its economic growth by curbing greenhouse gas production.

It recommends taking measures to protect water supplies and safeguard agricultural output.

China is set to become the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases within the next few years, though per-capita emissions remain well below those in developed western countries.

In step

The report's findings tally with global projections released at the beginning of the month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"By 2020, the average temperature in China will increase by between 1.1C and 2.1C, causing worsening droughts in northern China and extreme weather," the Chinese report states.

A man fishes next to dead fish lying on dried pond bed

Its projections suggest that production of rice, corn and wheat could fall by 10% by 2030, and by up to 37% during the second half of the century.

"If we do not take action, climate change will seriously damage China's long-term grain security," the assessment concludes.

But the report, compiled by more than 10 government bodies including the ministries of foreign affairs and science and technology, stops short of recommending cuts in China's greenhouse gas output.

It confirms the government's long-held view that climate change is caused predominantly by western nations which must cut emissions first.

This view is endorsed in the UN climate convention and Kyoto Protocol, which acknowledge that responsibility for action falls principally on wealthy industrialised nations with high per-capita incomes and emissions.

During his visit to Japan earlier this month, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao signed an accord with his counterpart Shinzo Abe pledging to work together for a successor to the Kyoto treaty, whose current targets expire in 2012.

But it is not clear what sort of commitments China envisages for itself and other developing countries in such a pact.


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