China distributes electricity as heat wave prompts factory shutdowns

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BEIJING — China’s hottest heat wave in 60 years has deepened economic pain from pandemic lockdowns, prompting authorities to order factories to halt production in several major manufacturing regions this week to save power.

Sichuan province, home to more than 80 million people, said on Monday that factories in 19 cities and counties would shut down until Saturday to reserve power for “people’s use.” Other regions in southern China have also ordered electricity to be prioritized to keep air conditioners running.

The shutdown of factories reflects how climate change is exacerbating China’s economic challenges. Officials warn the country is likely to miss its 5.5% growth target this year as the coronavirus lockdown disrupts trade and normal life.

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Jin Shandong, spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said on Tuesday that heat waves and drought have forced China to rely on coal for electricity. Significantly reduces hydroelectric power output.

Severe heat waves like this summer’s are expected to become more common in China as climate change worsens. Currently, 11 states have warnings for temperatures over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Chongqing, an autonomous city surrounded by Sichuan province, reached a record 112.1 degrees Celsius over the weekend, with highs above 104 degrees Celsius expected to continue for about a week.

China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is trying to establish itself as a global leader in combating climate change by touting a shift to electric vehicles and other measures. However, the country continues to build new coal-fired power plants. Earlier this month, Beijing suspended bilateral climate talks with the United States in retaliation for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Dry-heat blazes in the UK, power outages in Iraq, and more than 1,000 deaths in Portugal. President Biden last month called climate change an “emergency.”

China’s inland province of Sichuan has become an international manufacturing hub in recent years due to its lower production costs compared to coastal areas. The region produces and exports items such as electrical appliances, furniture, and food. State media reported that Sichuan province recorded its highest single-month electricity consumption in his July.

With the production shutdown suddenly taking effect on Monday, factories scrambled to grasp the economic impact.

Tongwei Solar, the world’s largest producer of crystalline silicon solar cells, has experienced disruptions at three production sites in Sichuan province, a company spokesperson told The Washington Post by phone, though his name was did not reveal.

“Currently, we are cooperating with relevant government departments to coordinate energy consumption in an orderly fashion. We are still assessing the specific impact,” he said.

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Foxconn, Apple’s leading assembler, told the China Securities Journal that “the impact on the company’s business will not be significant.” is produced in

Sichuan fertilizer maker Lutianhua issued a notice to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Monday, saying it expected a $4.4 million hit to its net profit from the production stoppage.

According to China’s National Meteorological Center, high temperatures could continue unabated until the end of the month.

China released its latest July economic data on Monday, with unemployment rising and an economic recovery slowing as the novel coronavirus outbreak and heat wave took their toll.Youth unemployment rose to a record 19.9. increased to %.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Fu Linghui said at a press conference on Monday that high temperatures across the south had “negative effects on economic operations”. He also said the pandemic’s impact on businesses means that they can no longer offer young people as many jobs as they used to.

“The economic recovery momentum has slowed slightly and the foundations to solidify the economic recovery still need to be strengthened,” Hu said.

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Underscoring Beijing’s concerns about the economy, China’s central bank unexpectedly cut key lending rates this week.

China’s leaders expect stronger economic activity this year ahead of the key Communist Party Congress in the fall, when President Xi Jinping is widely expected to break the precedent with his third term in office. was doing. But in recent months, Xi has made it clear that he will not lift China’s “zero coronavirus” policy, despite the costs.

With foreign tourism still largely halted, the Chinese government is encouraging families to take vacations inside the country over the summer to boost consumption. But an increase in travel has sparked a nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus, which has led to lockdowns at several holiday destinations, including beach resorts in Sanya, Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, and parts of Tibet.

China’s policy of isolating close contacts of COVID-19 patients also continues to disrupt daily life. A video of shoppers fleeing an IKEA store in Shanghai was widely shared over the weekend, after it was announced that those at the scene would be forced to quarantine after a close contact of a Covid patient visited the store.

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