China Releases Blueprint For Adapting To Climate Change
China issued its first nation-wide blueprint for adapting to climate change, as governments around the world shift their efforts from focusing solely on curbing global warming to minimizing its impact on people and the environment.
“Addressing climate change isn’t only about reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, it’s also about taking initiative on adaptation,” the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency, said in a report posted to its website.
The agency calculated that climate change has cost China more than 200 billion yuan ($32.9 billion) since 1990. In the same period, more than 2,000 people have died here because of extreme weather-related disasters such as floods, droughts, typhoons and storms, it said.
“China isn’t only the world’s largest carbon-dioxide emitter but also a vulnerable country that suffers a lot from climate change,” said Fuqiang Yang, senior adviser on energy, environment and climate at the National Resources Defense Council. The document will help decision makers, enterprises and the public better understand that adaptation is as important as mitigation, he said.
The commission laid out an extensive list of objectives—signed off by the ministries of finance, housing, transportation, water, agriculture and forestry—to achieve by 2020, including improving early-warning detection systems for natural disasters, promoting better farming practices, protecting nature and wildlife, and improving infrastructure. The document also offers detailed measures that aim to help protect some of China’s most vulnerable regions such as the western Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Some of the more novel guidelines include establishing a “comprehensive system for artificial rainfall” and promoting weather-based financial instruments such as catastrophe bonds and weather index-based insurance, which is often used by small-scale farmers in developing countries to protect against financial losses caused by inadequate rainfall.
The agency acknowledged a number of deficiencies and “weak links” that have made China vulnerable to climate change such as a lack of public awareness, disaster-response measures and health regulations as well as inadequate and aging infrastructure.
Mr. Yang said while the document is broad and all-encompassing, the central government will still need to prioritize and target regions that are most vulnerable.
“The government needs to decide what are the most cost-effective measures and which measures will produce the most significant impact,” he said. “China doesn’t have that much money or resources to address everything on this list.