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China outlines climate change adaptation plans

Lead planning agency calls for resilient infrastructure, revealing global warming cost country $32.9 billion since 1990

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By Ed King

The effects of climate change have cost China US$32.9 billion since 1990, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s leading planning agency.

It warns the country is ill-prepared to deal with the consequences of global warming, and has outlined a national adaptation plan to ensure all sectors take the threat seriously.

The NDRC recommends further investment in developing resilient infrastructure, warning that 2000 people died in the past two decades as a result of extreme weather events.

“We have deep concern of the negative impacts of climate change, like other developing countries,” Li Gao, Climate Change Deputy Director General at the NRDC told RTCC last month.

“If you look at China we have a very long coastal line, and if you look at sea level rising, it will have a very big threat to our development. Typhoon Haiyan reminded the world adaptation is urgent.

“We think it’s the right time to pay more attention to adaptation, because the urgent thing is something that is happening.”

What many are calling China’s adaptation blueprint warns that the health of the population and the natural environment it relies on are at acute risk from changing conditions.

“Degraded ecosystems, threatened biodiversity, and a variety of infectious diseases” are major concerns it says, recommending that forests, grasslands, wetlands, and desert regions are better protected.

The plans, which are region specific, call for more support to be directed to farmers, highlighting rising levels of soil erosion, poor water management and a lack of access to drought-tolerant crops.

Agencies must make “full use of international funds for adaptation action” the NDRC say, suggesting that the funding potential of ‘catastrophe bonds’ and ‘climate-related service products’ also need to be explored.

Critically, the report says early warning systems that can help populations escape dangerous storms are “insufficient”, while water supplies, drainage, gas and telecommunications need to be designed to cope with severe climate impacts.

The NDRC also suggests public awareness of climate adaptation needs to be urgently raised, while better South-South international cooperation also needs to be explored.

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  • SFGale

    China and the United States have much in common on this matter, unfortunately. Both are schizophrenic in reconciling economic necessity with environmental necessity. Neither seems capable or committed to reconciling those two competing imperatives, and they must. Both face daunting challenges in adaptation. But of the two, I sense from this distant shore that China’s plight is the more desperate and intractable, and a bigger Navy and moon mission will not help.

    China and the US are approaching the same fork in the road: to build new economies and technologies in the face of a common enemy; or to proceed onward to an environmental cliff with business as usual.

    This isn’t like “Three Gorges”. China can’t throw enough bodies at this challenge to subdue it.

    This isn’t like the US’s Great RePression. It can’t throw enough money at it to remediate.

    I am confident that neither nation has the leadership or enlightenment to avoid severe consequences.