9/13/2004 - DEPARTMENT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS NewsRelease (352/04) issued by the Government News Network on 13 September2004
China's rice production could drop by as much as one fifth by 2080 in aworst case scenario, according to new joint UK/Chinese research, publishedtoday by Environment Minister Elliot Morley.
The research has shown that yields of three staple crops - rice, wheat andmaize may fall by as much as 37 per cent over the coming century unlessfuture levels of carbon emissions are curbed.
The £400,000 study, which looked into the likely effects of climate changeon Chinese agriculture, found that average temperatures across China areexpected to rise by between 3-4C by the end of the 21st century.
Regional climate model outputs, developed by the Hadley Centre for ClimatePrediction and Research, Exeter, found that there are likely to be moreextreme events, including hotter summer temperatures and a rise in thenumber of days of heavy rainfall. Winters are likely to become less cold.
The modelling work took account of variations in climate, soil and theinfluence of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, but did notlook at water resource availability or pests and diseases.
It also looked for the first time at how socio-economic development couldhave a future impact on Chinese agriculture. One of the key conclusionswas that under a high economic growth scenario, the area of arable landwould decline by around 13 per cent, increasing the pressure on theremaining agricultural land.
Environment Minister Elliot Morley said the report emphasised that unlessgreenhouse gas emissions were reduced, climate change could seriouslyaffect agricultural production in China.
"I welcome the fact that the project has helped to increase closer workingrelations on climate change as well as developing mutual understandingbetween scientists from the two nations. I look forward to developing ourcollaboration further in the second phase of the project," he said.
During the project, five young Chinese scientists each spent between twomonths and a year working with UK researchers on various models. Threestudy tours involving a variety of Chinese researchers and Governmentofficials were also undertaken.
Chinese and British scientists are now preparing for a second phase of theproject, due to begin in 2005. This will take account of lessons learntfrom phase one of the study and look to explore the effect of climatechange on water availability and carbon dioxide fertilisation and theimpacts this will have on projected crop yields. The study is also likelyto include work with regions of China thought to be particularly sensitiveto climate change.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Defra and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) signedthe statement on joint work on climate change research on July 6, 2001. Itfollowed a commitment made by Prime Minister Tony Blair during a speech tothe Earth Summit on June 5, 1997 to get industrialised countries to workwith developing countries to help curb climate change.
2. The 30-month project was managed by AEA Technology on behalf of Defra.The project in China was led by Professor Lin Erda, Director ofAgrometereology at the Institute of the Chinese Academy of AgriculturalScience and involved input from the Chinese Ministry of Science andTechnology, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the NationalDevelopment Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Agriculture(MOA).
3. The key aims of the project were to:
* Assess the impact of climate change on Chinese agriculture through acollaborative project between China and the UK.
* Build capacity for this type of research within China by conductingtraining courses and facilitating academic exchanges between UK andChinese scientists.
4. The summary report can be found on the Defra website athttp://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/07.htm
5. China signed up to the Kyoto Protocol, which sets targets forindustrialised countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, onAugust 30, 2002
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