STEVEN BERNARD — LONDON
CHRISTIAN SHEPHERD — BEIJING
Trillions of dollars of economic activity
along China’s east coast, including
$974bn in Shanghai alone, are exposed
to oceans rising as a result of climate
change this century, according to
Financial Times analysis of unpublished data.
The economic might of Shanghai, the
leading Chinese financial centre built
between the Yangtze River estuary and
Hangzhou Bay, is most exposed to a rise
in sea levels, with an estimated $973.7bn
of 2019 gross domestic product at risk.
Suzhou and Jiaxing, which are within
100km to the west of Shanghai, were
ranked second and third out of the
34 cities in the data set, with $330.4bn
and $128.8bn of 2019 GDP exposed
respectively. Beyond the densely populated metropolitan centres, other critical pieces of China’s industrial supply
chains and high-tech research and
development zones face similar risks.
Among industrial landmarks found in
the highly exposed areas are the headquarters of Alibaba, China’s largest
ecommerce platform, in Hangzhou city;
the Suzhou industrial park that is home
to Panasonic’s new China headquarters;
and Tesla’s Shanghai gigafactory.
The analysis combines sea-level estimates by Climate Central, a US-based
non-profit, with unpublished data from
researchers in Finland that break down
2019 purchasing power parity GDP per
capita and use population density to
work out grid-by-grid estimates of
China’s ministry of ecology and environment did not respond to a request
for comment about the FT’s analysis.
Although tides are unlikely to rise to
levels that would submerge infrastructure for decades, researchers warn that
intensifying floods, storm damage and
soil erosion, as well as reduced fresh
water supplies, threaten to undermine
economic growth long before then.
Despite the high degree of exposure,
the effect of sea-level rise on economic
growth has traditionally received little
public attention in China.
Rana Foroohar see Opinion