China’s top meteorologist has warned that climate change threatens the country’s most important infrastructure projects, including the Three Gorges Dam and a high-altitude railway to Tibet.
Zheng Guoguang, head of China’s meteorological administration, told yesterday’s edition of state newspaper The Study Times that the increase in recent weather disasters such as floods, typhoons, droughts and heat waves had a "big connection" to climate change, and that they put new infrastructure at risk.
"Global warming affects the safety and stability of these big projects, as well as their operations and economic effectiveness, technological standards and engineering methods," Zheng said in the paper, which is published by the Central Party School, reports UK newspaper The Guardian.
In 2009 scientists expressed concern that global warming could melt permafrost on the Tibetan Plateau, thus compromising the rail line to Tibet.
Zheng also maintained that China’s rate of warming was "at an obviously higher rate" than the global average, with the north of the country warming faster than the south.
"The first decade of this century was the hottest in the past 100 years," he said.
But he added that, "Climate change is a lever which can push our country’s economic transformation."
Coal accounts for about 60% of China’s CO2 emissions, which cause health, social and economic problems.
China, the world’s biggest emitter of climate-changing greenhouse gases, has sought to shift increasingly to cleaner-burning hydrocarbons such as natural gas and to renewable energy.
In a joint announcement with the US last year, the Beijing government said it would aim to peak its fast-rising emissions "around" 2030, and the US said it would seek to cut emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.
Photograph: A train on a coastal route in the UK is lashed by waves during high winds (Network Rail)