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China: Storm Waves, Rising Seas Cost $2.6 Billion in 2013

State Ocenaic AdministrationA pair of reports highlight the economic and health impacts China has suffered from climate change and air pollution.

The country’s State Oceanic Administration released findings that climate change-induced storm waves and rising sea levels cost China 16.3 billion yuan ($2.6 bn) and killed 121 people in 2013. Storm waves caused 94 percent of that destruction, Reuters reports.

Sea levels in China have risen a yearly 2.9 mm, on average, since 1980 – faster than global sea-level rises.

While climate change is a global phenomenon that doesn’t respect national boundaries, China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The country has a target to cut GHG emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent, versus 2005 levels, by 2020. The government also plans to protect against rising sea levels by improving embankments, building submerged breakwater structures and converting some coastal farmland.

Meanwhile, a study by Columbia University and Chongqing Medical University found that air pollution from a Chinese coal-fired power plant, now shut, led to genetic changes that may have caused learning difficulties in children.

Babies born in southwestern Tongliang county had significantly lower levels of a protein crucial to brain development, and had poorer learning and memory skills when tested at age two. Officials shut down the plant in May 2004, Bloomberg reports.

Takeaway: A report from the Chinese government found that storm waves and sea-level rises cost the country $2.6 billion last year, while another report by academics found a Chinese coal-fired plant caused genetic changes and may have impaired children’s learning skills.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.


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