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Less Carbon Emissions, More Water Facilities, Key to Reducing Floods

Source:chinadaily.com.cn Published:2021-07-23 16:13

Since mid-July, Henan province, especially its capital Zhengzhou, has been battered by rainstorms. But very few expected the unprecedented deluge that devastated Zhengzhou last week.

According to the Zhengzhou Meteorological Service, the city received as high as about 201.9 millimeters of rain in just one hour on Tuesday. And from 8 pm July 17 to 8 pm July 20, it received a whopping 617.1 mm of rain, that means, almost equivale to a whole’s rainfall on the provincial capital in just 72 hours. Statistics show both are the highest since 1951, when Zhengzhou’s weather station was established.

The massive downpour and the subsequent floods have claimed many lives and caused widespread destruction. As a result, people are anxious to know how to better cope with natural disasters in the future.

No city in the world can be immune to natural disasters, and even the best infrastructure and preparedness may not be enough to prevent loss of lives and properties. Like other cities in China, Zhengzhou has the infrastructure and manpower to cope with heavy downpours. But what happened on Tuesday and Wednesday was totally unprecedented and that’s why everyone was caught unawares.

Nevertheless, the city needs to fortify itself against future natural disasters.

As an expert in hydropower engineering, I think more emphasis should be placed on improving water resources and hydroelectricity generation. While water conversancy facilities can make cities more resilient against extreme weather, water resources should be made better use of. And better management will help China to realize its hydropower generation potential and achieve the goals of emission peak and carbon neutrality.

Hydroelectricity can also play an important role in the country’s energy transformation. Hydropower has the highest share in China’s clean energy mix — its output surpasses the sum of wind and solar power. It is also the most effective and important form of renewable energy, and every country and region making extensive use of clean energy takes hydropower as a regulator.

President Xi Jinping congratulated the Wudongde and Baihetan hydropower stations — both in bordering areas of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces — when they started operation in June. His support for hydropower is in line with China’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emission, as emission is the main cause of climate change, which in turn is main cause of increasing extreme weather events.

Climate change-induced extreme weather events are causing havoc across the globe. Climate change is the cause of the floods in Europe, as well as the scorching temperatures in Northwest Pacific.

Indeed, climate change is a common challenge facing humankind. So in order to deal with extreme weather events, the world has to work together to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible. China, on its part, has pledged to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Yet the deadlines are only minimum requirements, because the more emissions we cut, the lower will be the chances of extreme weather events.

As for Henan, especially Zhengzhou, given the devastation the deluge has caused, it also needs to improve its early warning and response mechanism, so people and local authorities can be warned well in advance of impending extreme weather events.

The author is deputy secretary general at China Society for Hydropower Engineering.

The views don’t necessarily represent those of China Daily.

Editor:Zhao Hanqing