(TibetanReview.net, Aug06’22) – One reason why China now makes such a big issue of ensuring ecological protection in occupied Tibetan Plateau region may be that the country’s average ground temperatures are seen to have risen much more quickly than the global average over the past 70 years and will remain “significantly higher” in the future as the challenges of climate change mount.
Given this context, it is rather surprising, if not a little amusing, that one of the eight countermeasures China announced on Aug 5 to supposedly punish the United States for allowing its House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan was to suspend the China-US talks on climate change.
This is because in its annual climate assessment published this week, China’s weather bureau described the country as “a sensitive region in global climate change”, with temperatures rising 0.26 degrees Celsius (0.47 degrees Fahrenheit) a decade since 1951, compared to the global average of 0.15 degrees, reported Reuters Aug 4.
“In the future, the increase in regional average temperatures in China will be significantly higher than the world,” Yuan Jiashuang, vice-director of China’s National Climate Center (NCC), has said at an Aug 3 briefing.
Yuan has warned that changing weather patterns in China will affect the balance of water resources, make ecosystems more vulnerable and reduce crop yields.
The report noted that extreme weather had wreaked havoc in recent weeks, with lengthy heatwaves causing droughts and forest fires across the world. Besides, high rainfall in some countries has historically also caused deadly floods.
The NCC data was cited as showing that as many as 131 Chinese weather stations had recorded temperatures that equalled or exceeded historical highs, up from 62 for the whole of last year.
China’s 2021 climate assessment was reported as saying coastal water levels last year were at their highest since 1980. Besides, glacial retreat also accelerated, active permafrost along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway reached a record high and sea ice continued to decline, the report said.
China is to relocate more than 130,000 farmers and herdsmen from nearly 100 townships in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) over the next eight years as it is the process of drafting a new national law on the ecological protection of the Tibetan Plateau.
After stripping Tibet of vast covers of thick virgin forests while carrying out environmentally devastating mining activities over decades of occupation rule, top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping, have emphasized the urgency of environmental protection of the region during their recent visits to the TAR and Qinghai.
But the means being employed to carry out the policy remains controversial, including with Tibetans once again paying a heavy price for it through forced relocation, loss of livelihood, and socio-economic disorientation.