BEIJING — China’s worst heat wave in six decades is deepening the economic pain of pandemic lockdowns, with authorities ordering factories this week to suspend production in several major manufacturing regions to conserve electricity.
Dhaka August 17 2022 :
European Space Agency Report :
Water levels on the Rhine River, Europe’s second-largest river, have continued to drop owing to soaring temperatures and lack of rainfall, preventing many vessels from navigating through the waters at full capacity. The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission captured part of the Rhine River near Cologne – showing the stark difference between August 2021 and August 2022.
Flowing from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea, the Rhine River is an important shipping route for many products from grains to chemicals to coal. When water levels drop, cargo vessels need to sail with reduced load, so they don’t run aground.
Water levels at the chokepoint of Kaub, near Frankfurt, fell to 32 cm in depth on Monday, down from 42 cm last week. Ships, however, need around 1.5 m to be able to sail fully loaded making it difficult for larger ships to navigate through the waters. Freight ships continue to sail, but only with around 25% to 35% of the ship’s capacity.
The low water levels are emerging earlier than usual, with the lowest water levels typically recorded in September or October. However, reduced temperatures and predicted rainfall forecasted for this week may offer relief to the Rhine.
The phenomenon facing the Rhine is common across much of Europe after an unusually hot and dry summer – causing wildfires and water shortages.
The Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites capture high-resolution imagery that provide information about the conditions on Earth, such as plant life, soil and coastal areas. The mission consists of two satellites both of which carry an innovative multispectral imager – a camera that captures optical images over a range of wavelengths beyond visible light. For more information on the Sentinel-2 satellite.
Global Times Report :
As several regions in China are sweltering under temperatures above 40 C, the country’s meteorological authorities have continued to issue high temperature alerts for 25 consecutive days, and meteorologists believe the summer of 2022 has witnessed the strongest heat wave in six decades. They also predicted the long-lasting heat wave will become a “new normal” in the future due to aggravating global warming.
The lasting sizzling temperature has resulted in drought in many parts of China, including the main grain producer Henan; and pushed electricity usage to a limit. Experts believe the heat wave will be a stimulus for the Chinese government to gear up preparation for the “new normal” by speeding up the pace in embracing industrial upgrading, new and renewable energies; and boost investment in infrastructure and modern agriculture.
China Meteorological Administration (CMA) on Sunday issued a red alert – the highest in China’s four-tier weather warning system for extreme heat – for certain parts of Northwest China’s Xinjiang region, North China’s Shaanxi and East China’s Jiangsu provinces, marking the agency’s day 25 of consecutive heat warning this year, media reported.
Zhushan, a city in Central China’s Hubei Province, was recorded as the hottest Chinese city with temperature surpassing 44 C on Saturday. Jiangsu issued a warning on Sunday saying that surface temperature of some parts of the province will exceed 72 C.
According to media’s calculation, more than 10 provincial-level regions, including Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, are living with temperatures ranging from 40 C to 42 C this weekend.
Some tourist spots also closed due to the high temperature. Operator of the 71-meter tall Giant Buddha of Leshan, one of the most important cultural treasures of China, in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province announced on Sunday that it will close the feet area of the statue to tourists, because of high temperature.
Management of Chishui waterfall in Zunyi City, Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, said on Saturday that it has closed the waterfall spot, because the upper stream of the waterfall has dried up due to high temperature. It did not state when it’ll reopen.
A nucleic acid tester surnamed Cheng, in Southwest China’s Chongqing, which is also experiencing temperature around 40 C these days, told the Global Times that they now take shift frequently so to avoid being exposed in the heat wave for too long. “Sometimes the nearby supermarket owners will give us watermelon and ice cubes to cool ourselves down,” she said.
This year’s heat wave is the strongest in China ever since the country started meteorological observations in 1961, and the longest, Sun Shao, a senior research fellow from the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Sun said that compared with the record-breaking 2013 heat wave in China, which lasted 62 days, this year’s heat wave started pretty earlier. “We already saw 62 days of heat wave until Sunday, and its scope of influence and the highest temperature already surpassed those of 2013,” said Sun, noting the heat wave is likely to extend another week.
He attributed the reason for such abnormal weather to atmospheric circulation patterns, especially the abnormalities of Western Pacific subtropical high （which exerts important influences on anomalous weather and climate in East Asian monsoon region）.
People walk on a street during a heatwave in Athens, Greece, on June 22, 2022.(Photo: Xinhua)
Impacts on food, energy
The high temperature also resulted in drought in many parts of China, including Henan, one of the biggest food producers in the country, and many provinces alongside the Yangtze River. About 20 percent of Hubei is now experiencing drought, according to media report.
The Henan provincial government issued a notice on Sunday asking local governments to closely monitor the drought, and to divert water in a scientific manner. It also asked officials to exploit new water sources for people in drought areas.
Henan tops China’s list of wheat planting, and its production occupies one-fourth of the national production, according to a report from China’s Ministry of Agriculture in 2021.
The CMA held a video meeting on Sunday to deploy work on coping with the drought in the southern parts of China, and flood prevention in the northern parts of China.
Sun warned that because the heat wave started earlier this year, grain yield in some places, such as Sichuan, may subject to heavier blow than in 2013, and the drought situation in lower stream of the Yangtze River region will likely become worse as high temperature extends.
The expert advised to adjust temperature of farmlands by water, and use irrigation water to keep grains well watered.
Globally, the sizzling temperature is dragging down food production. Throughout Europe, July’s heat wave hit during a crucial pollination window for maize crops, threatening to reduce overall harvests and increase import needs.
Grist, an environmental news publication, reported in July that as heat waves hit Europe and Asia this week, “heatflation” could lead to increased global food prices.
Yet Chinese experts whisked off concern of food shortage in China, saying China has stable grain reserves, and it is a big food producer, which can realize self-reliance on food.
China’s National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration said on Sunday that the country’s main producing areas have purchased more than 46 million tons of wheat, and the overall purchase progress has exceeded 70 percent.
The high temperature is also pushing usage of electricity to a limit. According to statistics from State Grid Corporation of China, electricity sales in Shanghai, a metropolis with a population of 24 million, increased 38.41 percent in July, compared with the same period last year, and the figure rose to 40.24 percent in the first week of August.
Many places, including East China’s Zhejiang Province recently announced plans to restrict enterprises with high power consumption.
The Global Times learned from a cinema in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, that it has been ordered to shut down air conditioning under a power restriction order on Sunday.
“We received the notice [to shut down air conditioning] along with many other cinemas,” said an employee of the cinema, noting that the power restriction order has been put on many industrial and commercial facilities in order to ensure residential electricity usage.
Experts said that the demand of electricity keep soaring due to high temperature, which pushes high the electricity consumption at peak hours; governments’ measures to guide users to shift away from peak time usage of electricity can relief the pressure of peak demand.
Cope with “new normal”
Meteorologists also predicted such constant heat wave will become a “new normal” in the future. Chen Lijuan, an expert at National Climate Center told media on Saturday that it is not solely a weather problem. “Against the backdrop of global warming, heat wave will be a ‘new normal.’ The high temperature starts early, leaves late and lasts long, this will become more and more obvious in the future,” Chen noted.
Tian Yun, former vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association, told the Global Times that such “new normality” poses challenges to China’s economic development, such as the production industry, which relies heavily on energy, and it brings the problem of inflation closer, as demand for energy keeps rising.
In order to cope with those challenges, the government needs to speed up the pace in embracing industrial upgrading, new and renewable energies; and boost investment in infrastructure, suggested Tian.
Zhang Jianhua, head of the National Energy Administration, said in late July that China’s development of non-fossil energy has continued unabated, noting that the share of non-fossil energy in China’s total energy consumption is expected to grow at an average rate of 1 percentage point a year from now to 2030.
Lin also suggested that it is important to introduce new technology in agriculture, such as building subsurface irrigation, drought relief facilities, and combining agriculture with modern technology, such as big data and AI, to weaken the weather’s impact on crops.
China’s worst heatwave has forced authorities to shut down factories for five days in an attempt to conserve electricity. The Asian giant has also imposed rotating blackouts in different areas and instructed people not to use their air-conditioners above the 26 degree Celsius-mark
China is really feeling the heat. The Asian giant is melting away as it faces its fiercest heatwave in six decades, with temperatures crossing 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in dozens of cities.
Eleven provinces currently have warnings in place for temperatures above 40 degree Celsius. Chongqing, a self-administered province surrounded by Sichuan province, reached a record 44.4 degrees Celsius over the weekend.
Sun Shao, a senior research fellow from the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, told the Global Times that this year’s heatwave is the strongest in China ever since the country started meteorological observations in 1961, and the longest.
Sun said that compared with the record-breaking 2013 heatwave in China, which lasted 62 days, this year’s heatwave started pretty earlier. “We already saw 62 days of heat wave until Sunday, and its scope of influence and the highest temperature already surpassed those of 2013,” Sun was quoted as saying, noting the heatwave is likely to extend another week.
The rising mercury levels has also resulted in a drought-like condition and pushed electricity usage to a limit. So dire has the situation become that companies have been ordered to shut down and the Xi Jinping-led country is now rationing its power supplies.
The extreme heat has caused a spike in demand for air conditioning in offices and homes, putting pressure on the power grid.
In fact, news agency Reuters has reported that China’s southwestern province Sichuan has begun limiting electricity supply to homes, offices and malls on Wednesday until Saturday.
Residential areas, offices and shopping malls in the area with a population of 5.4 million were informed of the power rationing measure.
Additionally, government offices have been asked to set air conditioners to no lower than 26 Celsius (78.8°F) and use more staircases instead of lifts. The Sichuan Daily also reported that fountains, light shows and commercial activities during the night were to be suspended.
Luzhou, a city in Sichuan, announced that it would shut off the city’s street lights during the night to conserve power and alleviate the pressure on the electricity grid.
The power rationing is also applicable to big factories, including Apple (AAPL) supplier Foxconn and Intel.
Several companies including aluminium producer Henan Zhongfu Industrial and fertiliser producers Sichuan Meifeng Chemical Industry said in statements they were suspending production.
A plant operated by Taiwanese giant and Apple supplier Foxconn in the province has also suspended production, Taipei’s Central news agency reported.
The shutting down of companies in the Sichuan province will naturally affect the lithium output, as the area produces half the nation’s lithium. Susan Zou, an analyst at Rystad Energy, told AFP, that at least 1,200 tonnes of lithium output will be cut due to the operations disruptions in these five day.
Food prices soar
Another fallout of the scorching heat is the rise in food prices. An AFP news report has noted that the prices of eggs has increased substantially because fewer hens are laying eggs in the hotter-than-usual summer.
In Hefei city, farmers have reported a drop in egg production because of the heat, according to a Jianghuai Morning News report, adding that some facilities have installed cooling systems for their hens.
There are also concerns that the high temperatures that have caused drought-like conditions could affect the food production of China. Globally, sizzling temperatures have dragged down down food production and the same is feared in China too.
Tourism feels the heat too
The rising mercury has also forced authorities to shut down some tourist spots. Operator of the 71-metre-tall Giant Buddha of Leshan, one of the most important cultural treasures of China, in China’s Sichuan Province announced that it will close the feet area of the statue to tourists, because of high temperatures.
Even theatres have been ordered to shut down air conditioning owing to the power shortage.
The new normal?
Weather experts have stated that the heatwave will be the “new normal for China in the future.
Chen Lijuan, an expert at National Climate Center was quoted as saying that it is not solely a weather problem. “Against the backdrop of global warming, heatwave will be a ‘new normal’. The high temperature starts early, leaves late and lasts long, this will become more and more obvious in the future,” Chen noted.
With inputs from agencies
The factory suspensions reflect how climate change is intensifying China’s economic challenges. Officials have warned that the country is likely to miss its 5.5 percent growth target for the year, as coronavirus lockdowns disrupt trade and normal life.
On Tuesday, Jin Xiandong, a spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said China was having to rely more on coal for power because the heat wave and drought were significantly reducing hydropower output.
China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has sought to present itself as a global leader on climate action, touting its shift toward electric vehicles and other measures. But the country has continued to build new coal-fired power plants. This month, Beijing suspended bilateral climate talks with the United States in retaliation for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) trip to Taiwan.
Dangerously high temperatures have left nations around the world struggling this summer, with the dry heat sparking fires in Britain, a power-grid shutdown in Iraq, and more than 1,000 deaths in Portugal. President Biden last month called climate change “an emergency.”
As the production halt took effect abruptly on Monday, factories were scrambling to figure out the financial effects.
Tongwei Solar, the world’s largest producer of crystalline silicon solar cells, has experienced interruptions at its three production bases in Sichuan, a public relations officer of the company told The Washington Post by telephone, declining to give his name.
“Now we are cooperating with relevant government departments to adjust energy consumption in an orderly way and are still assessing specific impacts,” he said.
Foxconn, a major assembler for Apple, told the China Securities Journal that the “effect would not be large for the company’s operations.” Foxconn produces some Apple products, such as iPads and Macs, in Sichuan.
The high temperatures could continue unabated through the end of the month, according to China’s National Meteorological Center.
China released its latest economic data, for July, on Monday, which showed unemployment rates rising and the economic recovery slowing as new coronavirus outbreaks and the heat wave took their toll. Youth unemployment rose to a record 19.9 percent.
Fu Linghui, spokesman for China’s National Bureau of Statistics, said in a news conference on Monday that high temperatures across the south had caused “adverse effects on economic operations.” He also said the pandemic’s effect on companies meant they weren’t able to offer as many jobs to young people as before.
Underlining Beijing’s concerns about the economy, China’s central bank unexpectedly cut a key lending rate this week.
The country’s leaders had hoped for a stronger economic showing this year, ahead of a crucial Chinese Communist Party congress in the fall, where leader Xi Jinping is widely expected to break precedent by staying on for a third term. But Xi made clear in recent months he would not lift China’s “zero covid” policy despite the costs.
With foreign tourism still largely suspended, Beijing had encouraged families to take domestic holidays over the summer to shore up consumption. But the uptick in travel resulted in coronavirus outbreaks across the country, leading to lockdowns in some holiday destinations such as the beach resort of Sanya, the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi, and parts of Tibet.
China’s policy of putting any close contacts of a covid patient into quarantine is also continuing to disrupt daily life. Videos of shoppers fleeing an Ikea store in Shanghai were shared widely over the weekend, after an announcement that those on-site would be forced into quarantine because a close contact of a covid patient had visited the store.
Li reported from Seoul.
Hong Kong (CNN Business)
China’s Sichuan province has ordered all factories to shut down for six days to ease a power shortage in the region as a scorching heat wave sweeps across the country.
Climate Crisis Needs Effective, Inclusive Heat Planning and Responses
Written by :Esther Kim, SCSC External Fellow, Disability Rights Division
Thousands of people have died as 21 countries across Europe endured unusually high temperatures amid an unprecedented and prolonged yet predictable heatwave last month. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions, such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, were particularly affected. Data from Spain and Portugal show most people who died were over age 65.
Earlier data also shows the disproportionate impact of heatwaves on older people. In 2021, 90 percent of heat-related deaths in the United Kingdom were among people 65 and older. Similarly, when France had its deadliest heatwave in 2003, most of the 15,000 people who died were older people.
No data has been published yet on how many people who have died from the current heatwave had a disability. But we know that heat is more likely to affect people with disabilities or pre-existing conditions that limit the body’s ability to stay cool, including diabetes, spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries, and cerebral palsy. People with psychosocial disabilities (mental health conditions) have triple the risk of death from heat, in part because some medications interfere with the body’s ability to regulate its temperature.
A recent scientific study calls Europe a “heatwave hotspot,” finding that the number of heatwaves there has increased faster than other regions in the ostensible “temperate zone.” Temperatures are expected to continue rising, and heatwaves will be more common, with human-caused climate change being the main driver. July’s heatwave saw temperatures reach upwards of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Despite being among the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gas emissions driving the climate crisis, European governments have largely failed to help at-risk populations deal with the impacts of global warming. While some countries such as Belgium and France have heat action plans that target at-risk populations like older people and people with disabilities, most European countries have inadequate plans for addressing increasing temperatures that lead to thousands of preventable deaths each year.
Governments need better plans to protect older people and people with disabilities from increasingly common extreme heat. Officials should consult these communities to ensure those best placed to plan and lead responses can help prevent further deaths.
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