China says water supplies exploited by 2030|
By Chris Buckley
Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:52am EST
BEIJING (Reuters) - China will have exploited all available
water supplies to the limit by 2030, the government has warned,
ordering officials to prepare for worse to come as global
warming and economic expansion drain lakes and rivers.
As well, a state newspaper warned on Friday that drought
next year could hit crops and stoke already heady inflation.
China's surface and underground water supplies are under
strain from feverish economic growth and a population passing
1.3 billion. And scarcity will worsen with global warming, the
central government warned in a directive.
"In recent years economic and social development has led to
increasing water demand, and with the impact of global warming,
drought and water scarcity are increasingly grave," said a
directive issued by the office of the State Council, or
cabinet, late on Thursday.
"Taking into full account water-saving, by 2030 our
country's water use will reach or approach the total volume of
exploitable water resources, and the drought-fighting situation
will be increasingly serious."
The document on the government Web site (www.gov.cn) urges
officials to make emergency plans for coping with drought and
promises more spending on water-saving technology and
artificial rain-making. Local governments must also develop
policies to aid and compensate drought-hit farmers.
China has about 7 percent of the planet's water resources
to nourish a fifth of the global population, the government has
estimated. Scientists have said that by 2030, China's potential
grain output could fall by 10 percent, unless crop varieties
and practices adapt to climate change.
China is at the centre of international talks in Bali
struggling to agree on a framework for future negotiations on
an international pact to fight global warming.
But drought is already a chronic burden for many farmers,
especially in the country's west. An official newspaper said on
Friday that drought next year could cut crops and stoke already
The country's consumer inflation hit an 11-year-high at 6.9
percent in November, fuelled largely by rising prices for
The People's Daily, mouthpiece of the ruling Communist
Party, said drought in the south in 2008 could add to pressure
on the national "food basket."
"Localized regional drought is extremely likely to have the
same effect as yanking one hair to pull the whole body," the
report said, using a traditional saying.
With winter crops in southern China already hit by drought,
the paper said, "we must take this seriously and avoid setting
hidden perils for next year's agricultural production growth,
Contradicting officials' recent assurances that increased
farm production next year was likely to dampen inflation, the
People's Daily said extended drought in the south could drive
down crop yields and drive up food prices.
"The problem of prices at the end of this year and early
next merits serious attention," it said.
China could call on its massive stockpile of foreign
exchange reserves, which stood at $1.455 trillion at the end of
October, to shop around the world for more food, a planning
official said on Thursday.
(Editing by Roger Crabb)
Original article: Reuters
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