The nation prepares for climate change


New plan aims to bolster efforts to tackle global challenge

China has stepped up efforts to build resilience to climate change with a plan designed to serve as a stronger response to climate-related risks, establish increased monitoring capabilities and protect vulnerable areas and sectors.

The National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, unveiled by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and 16 other central government departments on June 13, highlighted the need to modernize national systems to prevent climate-related disasters and reduce economic vulnerability to growing climate change risks.

The policy document, which replaced an earlier version published in 2013, pledged to make parallel efforts in climate change mitigation and adaptation after China promised in 2020 to bring greenhouse gases greenhouse to a peak before 2030 and to become carbon neutral before 2060.

“Climate change has already had a serious negative impact on China’s environment and has continued to spread and penetrate its economy and society,” the document said.

It highlighted floods, droughts, shrinking glaciers and more frequent frozen ground, as well as growing water security risks, growing risks of weather disasters and pests and growing health risks in due to high temperatures and heat waves.

Climate change has also pushed China’s vegetation belts north, with average annual temperatures rising by 0.26°C every 10 years between 1951 and 2020.

Chao Qingchen, director of the National Climate Center, said after the plan was released that climate change and extreme weather, the most significant medium- and long-term risks globally, are expected to pose heightened risks to China’s economic growth. China and people’s lives.

She cited figures showing that weather disasters and their aftermath affected about 300 million people between 2000 and 2020, causing direct economic losses of 298.7 billion yuan ($44.6 billion) annually.

The latest national strategy underlined the fundamental role of climate change monitoring and early warning and the need to strengthen risk management, she said, adding that the development of a climate change monitoring network long-term, stable and consistent climate change was also highlighted.

The document sets the goal of developing a climate-resilient society by 2035 by establishing a national climate change risk monitoring and assessment system, and improving disaster prevention and control capacity. natural.

He also highlighted a guiding principle for the national adaptation plan, saying nature should be respected and appropriate and effective adaptation measures should be adopted based on China’s socio-economic development and environmental capabilities. and in resources.

The strategy also reaffirmed China’s commitment to strengthen South-South cooperation with developing countries in Africa, the Pacific and other regions to help them adapt to climate change, especially in terms of production. agriculture, water resource management, disaster monitoring and infrastructure development.

To strengthen its climate change monitoring network, China will strengthen monitoring of the effects of global warming on vulnerable regions, including drought-prone regions in northwest China, as well as on water resources, vegetation and desertification in the Yangtze and Yellow River basins.

There will be increased early warnings of extreme weather conditions and more accurate warnings of floods, geological disasters and wildfires.

Xu Huaqing, head of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, said in a co-authored note that the national strategy prioritizes nature, environment, society and nature. economy. The plan also aims to better regulate urban and rural environments and enable sectors such as finance, energy and tourism to better adapt to climate change.

The note pointed out that shortcomings still exist in national efforts to adapt to climate change, including a lack of analysis and assessment of its effects and risks, and added that there is a need to raise awareness and take more measures.

To make ecosystems better adapted to climate change, the strategy committed to implementing a nature-based solution, including steps to develop a monitoring system for major rivers, glaciers, frozen land and snow.

To boost water supply and prevent major droughts, the government will seek to expand access to tap water to 88% of the rural population by 2025.

Key measures to build the resilience of terrestrial ecosystems include expanding the coverage of nature reserves to at least 18% of national land area and forest cover to 26% by 2035, which would lead to an increase of 23 % compared to 2021.

Marine ecosystem protection and shoreline restoration were also highlighted in the strategy, which pledged to restore 50,000 coastal wetlands and 1,200 kilometers of shoreline by 2035.

A report released by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in March says Asian coasts are set to experience sea level rise higher than the global average, with China’s coastal megacities facing risks high levels of storm surge from higher intensity tropical cyclones.

The report also warned of potential harm to humans and animals from rising temperatures, which could lead to heat stress and mental disorders.

The national strategy is committed to effectively identifying health risks and vulnerable population groups and developing plans to better protect them.

The surveillance network and early warning capacity for climate-sensitive diseases, zoonoses (diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans) and other key infectious diseases as well as cardiovascular diseases will be strengthened.

To make national infrastructure more resilient to climate change, the document highlights the need to develop a smart water engineering network and make energy infrastructure more capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions.

He also underlined the need to adapt the design of urban protection works in the face of rising sea levels and to help build their flood prevention capacities.

Xi Wenyi, a researcher with China’s Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute, said there is a need for the country to include climate change adaptation in investment, planning and development of new infrastructures, in order to strengthen its resilience to the climate. risks.

“Our research has shown that improving the climate resilience of infrastructure and stimulating associated investment can help avoid future losses and generate economic, social and environmental benefits,” he said. she declared.

Teresa H. Sadler