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China's Three Gorges Dam Is Threatened by Climate Change, Says Government Official

China accounted for over 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions in 2011— more than any other nation.
May 4, 2015, 7:20pm
Photo via Reuters

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China's Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydroelectric plant in the world, stretching nearly a mile and half wide and over 600 feet high — five times larger than the Hoover Dam.

And climate change is seriously threatening the dam's future.

China's top meteorologist Zheng Guoguang warned on Monday that climate change is driving an increase in dangerous weather events like floods, typhoons, and droughts, which pose a threat to the Three Gorges Dam as well as other major infrastructure projects, Reuters reported.

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"Against the backdrop of the global warming, the risks faced by our large engineering projects have increased," Zheng told state newspaper Study Times, according to Reuters. "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 that China is warming faster than the global average and the first decade of the millennium was the hottest in the last 100 years.

China is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, accounting for over 20 percent of the global total in 2011, according to the World Resources Institute. By comparison the US accounted for around 12 percent.

In a joint agreement with the United States last year, China committed to peaking its emissions by 2030, in part by ramping up its renewable energy production.

In a sign that China's policy declarations might already be having an impact, the International Energy Agency recently reported that the country's emissions declined slightly in 2014.

"Climate change is a lever which can push our country's economic transformation," Zheng said.

Related: It might be possible to reduce carbon emissions and grow the economy at the same time