China releases new national climate change strategy to build resilience against global warming by 2035

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China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, has released a national strategy to improve its response to climate change.

The strategy was released by China’s ministry of ecology and environment together with 16 other state agencies on Monday. According to a statement posted on the ministry’s website, the country aims to develop as a “climate-resilient society” by 2035, by building a nationwide system to monitor and assess climate change-related risks, and by improving the whole society’s capabilities to prevent and control natural disasters.

“Further global warming – the long-term adverse effects as well as extreme events brought by climate change – has posed increasingly serious threats to China’s economic and social development, and the security of production and people’s lives,” the ministry said.

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According to the statement, China will follow the principles of active and scientific adaptation and prevention, as well as joint governance of different sectors to design and implement climate adaptive measures. It will build monitoring and early warning systems for the country’s water resources, terrestrial ecosystem and coastal ecosystems to prevent and assess climate change-related risks.

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The latest strategy comes after an announcement by Chinese president Xi Jinping in September 2020 that the country will aim to peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Moreover, China issued its first national strategy for climate change adaptation in 2013, setting goals to reduce vulnerability, strengthen monitoring and prevent risks.

Compared to the 2013 strategy, Monday’s announcement highlights more climate-change monitoring, early warning and risk management, the ministry said. It also formulates adaptive measures by considering both natural ecosystems and economic and social systems, and emphasises regional collaboration and support from the financial and technological sectors.

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China’s central agencies will implement adaptive measures to secure agricultural and industrial production, improve public health and strengthen the resilience of infrastructure in rural and urban areas, according to the 2035 national strategy.

China, with its varied climate and a population of more than 1.4 billion, is among countries facing the biggest threat from climate change, according to a report published by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in March. The country’s coastline is vulnerable to higher sea-level rise than the global average, and droughts and floods led by extreme rainfalls are major threats affecting its food production and people’s livelihoods, according to IPCC.

Last July, extreme rainstorms in China’s central Henan province, one of the country’s most important agricultural regions, caused 302 deaths and a total economic loss of US$19 billion. Of this amount, only US$2.3 billion worth was insured, according to research by Swiss Re, one of the world’s biggest reinsurers.

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In total, China endured around US$25 billion of losses from floods last year, the second-worst after Europe’s more than US$41.8 billion flood-related losses, Swiss Re said in March.

China is also utilising its financial systems to support climate change adaptation and mitigation in a market-based way. Last year, the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, published a green bond projects catalogue to identify and support activities and assets related to China’s sustainable goals and climate adaptation and mitigation.

“We believe supportive policies will encourage financing and investments in broader climate adaptation activities, such as climate-resilient infrastructure, biodiversity [and] agriculture,” Jia Jingwei Jia, associate director of ESG research at Sustainable Fitch, said on Tuesday.

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