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Five Reasons China Should Care About Climate Change

In an unusually forthcoming speech, a top Chinese meteorologist outlines serious risks facing the country
A worker wears a mask to protect from a haze blanketing the Singapore Central Business District, skyline in the background on Thursday, June 20, 2013.

A worker wears a mask to protect from a haze blanketing the Singapore Central Business District, skyline in the background on Thursday, June 20, 2013.

AP Photo/Joseph Nailr

Chinese officials don’t usually go into detail on the challenges that climate change poses for the world’s most populous and largest carbon-emitting country. But in a speech on March 23, a top meteorologist warned of the severe risks facing China, including droughts, floods, falling crop yields, vanishing water supplies, and a “serious threat” to critical infrastructure projects such as the Three Gorges Dam. 

The average surface temperature in China has been going up by 0.4F (0.23C) every decade since halfway through the last century, twice as fast the global average, said Zheng Guoguang, director of China’s meteorological administration in Beijing. Meanwhile, losses due to weather disasters since 2000 have amounted to 1 percent of gross domestic product, 8 times as high as the rest of the world. "As the world warms, risks of climate change and climate disasters to China could become more grave," Zheng said. Below are the five biggest risks that Zheng outlined in his recent speech.