BEIJING, 14 July 2021 –  A new report from Greenpeace East Asia analyzed climate risk from extreme heat and rainfall across the major metropolitan regions around Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou-Shenzhen,¹ finding risk is now highest in dense city centers but is growing faster for urbanizing communities on the outskirts. 

“Not all communities experience the same impacts from climate change. Local governments urgently need the capacity to support at-risk communities. Areas undergoing rapid urbanization are experiencing a steep rise in risk. But they are not as well-researched or funded to address climate risk,” said Dr. Liu Junyan, the climate and energy project leader for Greenpeace East Asia’s Beijing office.

The report indexed climate risk from extreme heat and extreme rainfall, which have increased in frequency and intensity. While extreme heat has risen steadily, extreme rainfall has fluctuated from periods of extreme highs to extreme lows. Beijing is experiencing the fastest rise in average temperature, at a rate of +0.32°C every ten years, while Shanghai had the fastest rise in heat waves. Results showed that Guangzhou-Shenzhen experienced 98 heat waves since 1961, with 73 of them occurring just since 1998. 

Factoring in global greenhouse emissions pathways described by the IPCC in 2014,² if global emissions peak around 2040, results show temperature rise in some parts of Beijing could exceed 2.6°C by 2100. Summers would become longer by 28 days in Beijing, 24-28 days in Shanghai, and more than 40 days in Guangzhou-Shenzhen. Some parts of the Shanghai and Guangzhou-Shenzhen regions would experience a more than 25% rise in extreme rainfall. Meanwhile, the northwestern part of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen region would experience more drought.

“Heat waves during the COVID-19 pandemic are an example of climate risk’s impact. Extreme weather can make it untenable or even dangerous for society to respond appropriately to other hazards. Building resilient communities means first identifying at-risk groups, whether that’s based on location, income, welfare, housing, employment, medical history, or other factors.”

Comprehensive data collection and analysis should be a top priority to enable inter-disciplinary research, systematic risk analysis, and science-policy interface. This is key for national-level policy to adapt to local conditions and for coordination of local-level climate response and climate adaptation. Overall, stronger risk awareness and understanding contributes to open and responsive climate action.


[1] This report analyzed three major metropolitan regions: Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Shanghai Yangtze Delta (including parts of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Anhui provinces), and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Pearl River Delta (including parts of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region). 

[2] RCP 4.5 was one of two “intermediate scenarios” described by the IPCC in 2014. In RCP4.5, the global climate would “more likely than not” increase by more than 2°C. Of the two intermediate scenarios (RCP 4.5 and RCP 6.0), RCP 4.5 projected an earlier emissions peak. 

Report briefing here.

Full report here (in Chinese).

Media contacts

August Rick | Greenpeace East Asia, Beijing | [email protected]

Greenpeace International Press Desk, [email protected], phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)