China climate data shows 2020 was 8th hottest year since 1951

Rising sea levels threatening to submerge coastal mega cities like Shanghai if action isn't taken. PHOTO: JULIANA LOH

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Last year was China's eighth-hottest and fourth-wettest year since 1951, according to the nation's climate researchers.

The average temperature for the year was 0.7 deg C higher than the average from 1981 to 2010, according to the China Climate Bulletin released by the National Climate Centre this week.

Provinces including Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian recorded the highest average temperatures since 1961.

The average annual rainfall across the country was 695mm, the fourth-highest since 1951, when the government began recording data.

Regions near the Songhua River and Yangtze River witnessed the highest rainfall since 1961, including deluges that caused widespread flooding over the summer.

Natural disasters, including floods and typhoons, left 591 people dead or missing, and 5.89 million people had to be relocated, according to China's Emergency Management Ministry.

Nearly 20 million hectares of crops were damaged and natural disasters caused more than 370 billion yuan (S$76.2 billion) in economic losses.

While China's leaders have long taken climate change seriously, it was in the midst of this hot, wet and deadly year that the country took its most pronounced stand at tackling the issue, with President Xi Jinping announcing plans to zero-out carbon emissions within 40 years.

China is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, with rising sea levels threatening to submerge coastal mega cities like Shanghai if action isn't taken.

There was one bright side to the weather. The report also noted better conditions in 2020 for growing plants and crops.

The "Vegetation Index", an indicator that quantifies live green vegetation, was the second-highest since 2000, according to the report.

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