On China Dialogue, Pew Center on Global Climate Change answers questions about the linkage between global warming and recent natural disasters in China, including this winter’s snowstorms:
What are the potential lessons to be learned for China from extreme weather events that seem to be increasing in frequency?
The most important lesson China can take from this event is that climate change has real and potentially severe costs. It is true that the US and Europe are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases currently in the atmosphere. However, given its current path of development, China will be the largest single contributor to greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere in the future and will therefore be the largest contributor to those impacts that can still be avoided in the future. It is important, therefore, for China to understand the trade-offs that are inherent to any path of future economic development. Today a carbon-intensive economy may seem to be the most expedient path to economic growth, but the real and unpredictable costs to the economy of future climate change could be debilitating.