World 'Ordinary people suffer most': China farms face climate woes
What to know about COP26 ahead of global climate summit
Experts say the world still has a narrow window of opportunity to act – and crucial global summit is coming up.Over two weeks in November, world leaders and national negotiators will meet in Scotland to discuss what to do about climate change. It's a complex process that can be hard to make sense of from the outside, but it's how international law and institutions help solve problems that no single country can fix on its own.
JIAOZUO, China (AP) — Wang Yuetang’s sneakers sink into the mud of what was once his thriving corn and peanut farm as he surveys the damage done by an unstable climate.
Three months after torrential rains flooded much of central China’s Henan province, stretches of the country’s flat agricultural heartland are still submerged in several inches of water. It’s one of the many calamities around the world that are giving urgency to the U.N. climate summit underway in Glasgow, Scotland.
China is addicted to dirty coal. Humanity's future depends on it kicking the habit.
China's coal consumption will be the main focus at COP26, the United Nations climate change conference hosted in Glasgow, Scotland.It is home to the world’s largest solar farm, a rolling ocean of 4 million panels high up in the Tibetan plateau that’s large enough to cover Manhattan. Some 600 miles to the east, in Inner Mongolia, are the belching smokestacks of the Tuoketuo power plant, the world's largest coal-fired power station and one of the biggest single sources of pollution ever created.
”There is nothing this year. It’s all gone,” Wang said. “Farmers on the lowland basically have no harvest, nothing." He lost his summer crop to floods, and in late October the ground was still too wet to plant the next season’s crop, winter wheat.
On other nearby farms, shriveled beanstalks and rotted cabbage heads bob in the dank water, buzzing with flies. Some of the corn ears can be salvaged, but because the husks are moldy, they can be sold only as animal feed, bringing lower prices.
The flooding disaster is the worst that farmers in Henan like Wang can remember in 40 years — but it is also a preview of the kind of extreme conditions the country is likely to face as the planet warms and the weather patterns growers depend upon are increasingly destabilized.
Climate change: US vs. China -- Here's how the two biggest emitters stack up
China's emissions today are more than double those of the US, but no country has historically put more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than the US.China's emissions are more than double those of the US, but historically, the US has emitted more than any other country in the world.
“As the atmosphere warms up, air can hold more moisture, so when storms occur, they can rain out more extreme precipitation,” said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University. “Chances are extremely likely that human-induced climate change caused the extreme flooding you saw this summer in places like China and Europe.”
China, the most populous country in the world, with 1.4 billion people, is now the planet’s largest contributor to climate change, responsible for aroundof carbon dioxide emissions that warm the Earth, though the United States is the biggest polluter historically.
As world leaders take part this week in the climate summit, China is being criticized for not setting a more ambitious timeline for phasing out fossil fuels.
Ex-UN climate chief doesn't see Paris-type moment in Glasgow
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Christiana Figueres knows how to hammer out a climate deal, and she doesn’t expect the United Nations conference that just started in Glasgow to end with the kind of big moment she engineered in Paris six years ago. But she remains optimistic, saying failure “is not going to happen here.” Figueres, the former executive secretary of the U.N.'s climate change program, was a key architect behind the historic 2015 Paris climate agreement. She says the negotiations leading to the two-week conference in Scotland have not progressed enough to reach the U.N.
President Xi Jinping, who has not left China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and will not be attending the summit but sent a veteran negotiator, has said the country’s carbon emissions will level off. Critics say that’s
Chinese governmentpaint a worrying vision of the future: rising sea levels threatening major coastal cities, including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, and melting glaciers and permafrost imperiling western China’s water supply and grand infrastructure projects such as the across the Tibetan plateau.
Top government scientists also predict an increase in droughts, heat waves and extreme rainfall across China that could threaten harvests and endanger reservoirs and dams, including Three Gorges Dam.
Meanwhile, China’s people are already suffering the brunt of climate change. And in a common pattern around the world, those who have contributed least to the warming and have the fewest resources to adapt often feel the pain most acutely.
In late July, Chinese news broadcasts carried startling footage of torrential rains swamping Henan’s provincial capital, Zhengzhou — at one point, 8 inches (20 centimeters) fell in a single hour — with cars swept away, subways flooded and people struggling through waist-deep water. More thanas the megacity turned into an accidental Venice, its highways transformed into .
Biden totes up climate efforts, pushes for more at UN summit
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — President Joe Biden was swinging the focus of his battle for fast, concerted action against global warming from the U.S. Congress to the world on Monday, appealing to global leaders at a U.N. summit to commit to the kind of big climate measures that he is still working to nail down at home. Speaking to world leaders at the newly opened climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Biden planned to tote up his not-yet year-old'sSpeaking to world leaders at the newly opened climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Biden planned to tote up his not-yet year-old's administrations climate efforts and announce new climate initiatives, including billions of dollars in hoped-for legislation to help poorer communities abroad deal with
Even after the most dramatic storms ceased, the water continued to pool in much of the surrounding countryside, a flat and fertile region.
Here the economy depends on corn, wheat and vegetables, and other regions of China depend on Henan for food. The local government reported that nearly 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) of farmland were flooded — an area about the size of Connecticut — with damage totaling $18 billion.
“All I could do at the time was to watch the heavens cry, cry and cry every day,” said Wang, the peanut farmer.
A limited number of rudimentary pumps were shared among farmers in Henan. Soft plastic tubes were stretched across fields to drain water, but they periodically burst, sending farmers running to patch holes.
What's different about this world climate change summit
World leaders are gathered in Scotland at a massive and consequential United Nations climate change summit known as COP 26. © Evan Vucci/AP President Joe Biden speaks during the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool) Countries acknowledge the danger of climate change and say they're committed to doing something about it. But there is increasing alarm that countries won't do enough to hold world temperatures below the key threshold most scientists have set.
A 58-year-old farmer who gave only her last name, Song, said everything she owned was submerged by the floods — her home, furniture, fields, farming equipment.
“Nothing was harvested. This year, the common people have been suffering all year long,” she said. “Ordinary people suffer most.”
“We have been working so hard, breaking our backs … without even a penny back, my heart aches,” said Hou Beibei, a farmer whose simple vegetable greenhouses — plastic tarps covering plots of eggplant, garlic and celery — remain flooded, her hard work washed away.
She is worried about her two young children. “The tuition fees of the children and the living expenses of the whole family rely on this land,” she said.
The summer also saw another climate-linked natural disaster in China. In July, theon Earth in 142 years of record-keeping, according to , a vast and toxic blue-green algae bloom spanning 675 square miles (1,748 square kilometers) engulfed coastal waters off the prosperous city of Qingdao, threatening navigation, fishing and tourism. State broadcasts carried footage of people using dump trucks to remove the .
Biden heads into international climate negotiations with a weak hand
American politics are undermining the global fight against climate change — again.It’s almost exactly a year since the Trump administration officially, though temporarily, withdrew the US from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Since Biden’s inauguration, the new administration has had nine months to piece together a plan for the climate negotiations in Glasgow that shows the US is making concrete progress on its domestic pollution.
Another threat to China’s coastal provinces is sea level rise. Government recordsthat coastal water levels have already risen around 4.8 inches (122 millimeters) between 1980 and 2017 and project that within the next 30 years, waters could rise an additional 2.8 to 6.3 inches (70 to 160 millimeters).
Because China's coastal areas are largely flat, “a slight rise in the sea level will aggravate the flooding of a large area of land," erasing expensive waterfront properties and critical habitats, a governmentprojects.
“I think these impacts are triggering a national awakening. I think people are increasingly asking, ‘Why have extreme weather events like this happened? What are the root causes?’” said Li Shuo, a climate policy expert at Greenpeace East Asia in Beijing.
“I think this is bringing the Chinese policymakers and the general public to a realization that we are indeed in a climate emergency.”
AP researcher Chen Si contributed research from Shanghai.
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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
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