China says climate change threatens major projects

BEIJING (Reuters) - Climate change threatens some of China's most important infrastructure projects, China's top meteorologist warned in a state newspaper, adding the country's rate of warming was higher than the global average. Zheng Guoguang, head of China's Meteorological Administration, told the weekly newspaper the Study Times that the uptick in recent weather disasters such as floods, typhoons, droughts and heatwaves had a "big connection" to climate change. Such catastrophes were a threat to big-ticket schemes such as the Three Gorges Dam and a high-altitude railway to Tibet, he said. "Against the backdrop of the global warming, the risks faced by our large engineering projects have increased," Zheng told the newspaper's latest edition, published on Monday. "Global warming affects the safety and stability of these big projects, as well as their operations and economic effectiveness, technological standards and engineering methods," he added in the paper, published by the Central Party School, which trains rising officials. China's rate of warming was "at an obviously higher rate" than the global average, with the north of the country warming faster than the south and winters faster than the summer, Zheng said. "The first decade of this century was the hottest in the past 100 years," he added. Dealing with climate change was necessary for China to put its economy on a more sustainable growth path, Zheng said, something the country's leadership has been aiming for. "Climate change is a lever which can push our country's economic transformation." Coal accounts for about 60 percent of China's CO2 emissions, which are causing massive health problems because of the smog they generate. China, the world's biggest emitter of climate-changing greenhouse gases, has sought to shift increasingly to cleaner burning hydrocarbons such as natural gas and to renewable energy. In a joint announcement with the United States last year, Beijing said it would aim to peak its fast-rising emissions "around" 2030, and the United States said it would seek to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Alex Richardson)