Melting Asia

Saturday, June 7, 2008

In the past couple of years, Chinese officials have begun sounding like converts to the climate-change cause. In late 2006 12 ministries helped produce a 415-page report on the impact of global warming. It foresees a 5-10% reduction in agricultural output by 2030 (a shift from previous thinking on this among Chinese academics which held that global warming might benefit agriculture overall); more droughts, floods, typhoons and sandstorms; a 40% increase in the population threatened by plague. The report also admits the possibility of damage to the Tibetan railway. Last year China published its first policy document on climate change, admitting that coping with global warming presented “severe challenges”.

China also now admits its own contribution to the problem. Officials reacted frostily last year when the International Energy Agency, a rich-country think-tank, said China would overtake America as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2007 or 2008. But the Chinese commerce ministry's website now carries, without negative comment, an article from April this year quoting University of California researchers saying China is already number one.

The impact of climate change on India, a hotter and poorer country, is likely to be worse. According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, India's agriculture will suffer more than any other country's. Assuming a global temperature increase of 4.4°C over cultivated areas by 2080, India's agricultural output is projected to fall by 30-40%.

Yet India's response to this doomful scenario has been, at best, haphazard. For example, it has made only occasional studies of 11 Himalayan glaciers. It has also shown little concern for the regional political crisis that climate change threatens. As sea-levels rise, for example, the IPCC warns that 35m refugees could flee Bangladesh's flooded delta by 2050. Yet even in India, attitudes are changing.

Read more:

http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11488548

Posted by Kaks at 11:05 AM  

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