A report by six government departments in China has warned that climate change would harm the country’s economy and environment in the coming decades, with potentially devastating cuts in agricultural output.

The warning, reports The Scotsman newspaper, comes from the State Meteorological Bureau, Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Technology, among others. It could be seen as a sign that China – which has experienced dramatic rises in carbon emissions because of a booming economy largely powered by coal-fired power stations – is about to take significant steps to address the issue.

The Chinese report was published shortly after it was revealed that 2006 had been hotter than average in China and that there had been more natural disasters than normal.

“Climate change will increase the instability of agricultural production,” the report said. “If no measures are taken, in the latter half of the century, production of wheat, corn and rice in China will drop by as much as 37 per cent.”

It said that average temperatures in China would rise by 2C or 3C in the next 50 to 80 years and that this would cause “the speed of change to accelerate”. The report added that evaporation rates for some inland rivers would increase by 15 per cent. China already faces a severe water shortage, especially in the north. However, the document did not say what measures should be taken to combat climate change.

Well, I suppose its a start.