Official announcements said that a provincial capital in southwest China had dimmed outdoor advertisements, subway lighting, and building signs to save energy as the area battled a power outage caused by record-high temperatures.
This week, temperatures in Sichuan province soared above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), fueling massive demand for air conditioning and drying up reservoirs in a region reliant on dams for the majority of its electricity.
Factories in the provincial capital Chengdu, including a joint venture with Japanese automaker Toyota, have been forced to close, while millions in another city, Dazhou, have faced rolling power outages.
“The city’s electricity supply for production and daily life has been pushed to its limit due to hot and muggy weather,” Chengdu’s urban management authorities said in a social media notice Thursday.
In response to a “most severe situation,” the city of over 20 million people ordered landscape illumination and outdoor advertising lights to be turned off in notices issued Tuesday, according to the statement.
Building name signs will be darkened as well.
In a video posted on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, the Chengdu metro said it would also turn off advertisement lights and “optimise” station temperatures to save energy.
Photos on Weibo circulated of dimmed lights on metro platforms, walkways, and in malls, with commuters walking in the dark.
The scorching heat is also drying up the Yangtze River, with water flow on its main trunk approximately 50% lower than the average over the last five years, according to state media outlet China News Service on Thursday.
Sichuan’s power problems may have repercussions for the Chinese economy as a whole, as the province is a key supplier of hydropower energy to eastern industrial powerhouses such as Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
China is dealing with extreme weather on multiple fronts, with 23 people killed and eight still missing following a flash flood in the country’s northwest triggered by torrential rains on Thursday.
On Friday, weather officials in eastern Jiangsu province warned drivers of tyre puncture risks as the surface temperature of some roads approached 68 degrees Celsius.
The China Meteorological Administration previously stated that the country was experiencing its longest period of sustained high temperatures since records began in 1961.
Extreme weather has become more common around the world, according to scientists, and urgent global cooperation is needed to avert a disaster.
The United States and China are the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters.
However, in response to a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Beijing announced this month that it would suspend its cooperation with Washington on global warming.