World climate change takes toll on China's seas

Updated: 2011-11-16 08:13

By An Baijie (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Climate change around the world has caused sea levels along China's coasts to rise more than 80 millimeters over the last three decades, according to figures in a national report released by the government in Beijing on Tuesday.

Such a rise marks an average increase of 2.6 millimeters each year from 1977 to 2009, said the second National Assessment Report on Climate Change.

According to the report, the sea level in China will continue to rise and a total of 18,000 square kilometers of coastal land is likely to be submerged in 2080, with levels increasing the most in Tianjin, Shanghai and Guangdong.

Liu Yanhua, head of the group compiling the report and the former vice-minister of science and technology, said that climate change has inflicted great losses on China's agricultural production and affected biological diversity.

"Climate change has lead to the increase of pest disasters," Liu said. "The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has also increased due to climate change," Liu said.

The report was done by the Ministry of Science and Technology, China Meteorological Administration, Chinese Academy of Sciences, along with several other ministries, commissions and institutes.

It also found that carbon dioxide emission per unit of GDP in China decreased 55 percent from 1990 to 2009, yet with the continued growth of China's economy, its total energy and carbon dioxide emissions will continue to see a "moderate increase" in the future with the growth of the economy, said the report.

Xu Huaqing, an official with energy research institute of National Development and Reform Commission, said the amount of carbon emissions is affected by such factors as population, energy use and industrial structure.

"Based on the research of many authoritative institutes, the peak (of China's carbon emission) is likely to appear in 2035-2040 given the current situation," Xu said.

"If all of the factors develop in an ideal way, the most optimistic outlook is that the peak will appear in 2030," Xu said.

The increase of total carbon emissions is "inevitable" since China's GDP growth is maintaining a rapid pace, Xu added.

In November 2009, China set a goal of reducing GDP carbon dioxide emission intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

"Even if we achieved the 2020 goal of unit GDP carbon emission decrease, as much as 900 million tons of extra carbon dioxide will be emitted with the increase of each one percentage of GDP growth," Xu told China Daily.