Warming “hits China’s poor hardest”

Climate change affects China's poor the hardest and also forces some of those lifted out of hardship back into it, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, citing the activist organisations Greenpeace and Oxfam. In a report compiled with experts from China's Academy of Agricultural Sciences , the groups urged the Chinese government to review its existing poverty-alleviation policy in light of climate change.

According to Xu Yinlong of the academy: “Climate change is making poverty-alleviation work harder … because as soon as there is a disaster in those places where the environment is very fragile, these return to poverty.”

China is one of the countries in the world most prone to natural disasters, said Hu Angang, an economist at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, who wrote a preface to the report. “More than 70% of Chinese cities and over 50% of the population are located in areas susceptible to serious meteorological, seismic or oceanic disasters,” Hu wrote.

Highlighting the correlation between hardship and a weak environment, the report said that 95% of those living in absolute poverty in China are in ecologically fragile areas in the country’s interior. These areas now are showing signs of climate change, including glacial retreat, an increase in droughts, enhanced soil erosion and frequent extreme weather events.

Greenpeace and Oxfam urged China to take the lead in adopting a new climate-change treaty at United Nations talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, and to introduce measures such as elevating bridges and roads in flood-prone areas.

See full story here (English) and here (Chinese)