China's climate action good for middle class

By Caroline Anstey and Paul Donovan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-01-12 08:12:48

The year 2015 was the warmest on record globally. In Asia, we saw the strongest El Nino ever recorded, which was linked to drought in Southeast Asia, wildfires in Indonesia and an unusually active cyclone season in the Pacific. We also saw the first ever "red alert" for smog in Beijing, driven in part by the burning of fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change.

But we also saw real progress in tackling climate change with the historic agreement in Paris by 196 countries, including China, to try to limit the rise in global temperature to less than 2 degrees C. While talking about the impacts of climate change, however, we often overlook the world's middle-class population, which has swelled to 1 billion and is concentrated in rapidly growing, densely populated cities, mostly located in coastal areas of emerging markets where manufacturing and trade have flourished.

The Paris agreement comes at a critical time for them: UBS's analysis of data for more than 200 cities around the world found that the middle class is highly exposed to weather hazards and underinsured. Our report, "Climate Change: A Risk to the Global Middle Classes", concludes Asia, China in particular, is high on the risk indicators given the rapid urbanization and economic progress of the region.

China's climate action good for middle class

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