China faces the scourge of extreme temperatures for several days

China faces the scourge of extreme temperatures for several days

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Some Chinese provinces have added up to 31 consecutive days of red alerts for heat. It is the most severe drought and the longest period of extreme high temperatures in nearly 60 years. In the city of Chongqing, great efforts are made to save energy.

With Stéphane Lagarde, RFI correspondent in Beijing

The power system in China, the world’s largest manufacturing hub, is reeling from strong demand for refrigeration, prompting factory closures and raising supply chain concerns.

The Yangtze River, the nation’s longest, is at record lows, halting shipping on vast sections of this key waterway.

These heats and the lack of rains are of particular concern to farmers of basic products such as soybeans and rice.

Restrictive measures on the use of electricity extend beyond Sichuan, the first province to decree the closure of industries.

Offices and shopping centers reduce the use of air conditioners, employees are asked to use the stairs instead of the elevators. Billboards and building signs go out.

At the moment, electricity cuts in homes are exceptional, although future restrictions to save energy in anticipation of winter are not ruled out.

The effects of climate change are accelerating and China is being heavily affected: in some areas, droughts and heat, in others, extreme rains and floods. Perhaps this will motivate the country to accelerate its urgent implementation of more efficient and committed energy saving measures, drastically moving the country away from the use of coal.

After the impressive images of the fires and the walls of flames that devoured the mountains around Chongqing a few days ago, now it is the photos of stations, offices, subways plunged into darkness or in any case with reduced lighting that invade the social networks.

Chongqing, save energy at all costs

Like other megacities in southern China, the imperative in Chongqing is to save energy. Stores have to adjust to the thermometer and to temperatures that exceed the threshold of 40 degrees, which feel like 50 degrees with humidity, with opening hours between 4 and 9 p.m. and with electricity restrictions.

RFI interviewed a client who was able to enter a warehouse this Tuesday morning.

“The shops in the mall were only partially lit and in the corridors it was almost dark. The escalators were not working. I went up to the second floor. I was tired, I stopped shopping. A Weibo friend told me that he wanted to work from home because the air conditioning is off in his office.

Beyond trade, factories in the world’s second largest economy are feeling the effects of the heat wave. Also in the southwest, authorities in Sichuan province have issued a “yellow alert” for temperatures. The electrical restrictions have lasted for five days.

Temperatures remain high, and without air conditioning, residents of Sichuan and Chongqing in southwestern China do not live comfortably.

The biggest impact is on businesses and factories, including automakers and, more generally, industries that had relocated to the West for lower wages. Volkswagen and Foxconn, in particular, had to suspend production, reported.

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