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Climate change in China

Climate change in China is having major effects on the economy, society and the environment.[1] The energy structure and human activity caused global warming and climate change, and China suffered from negative effects of global warming in agriculture, forestry and water resources.

Current situation

China observed a ground average temperature increase of 0.24℃/decade from 1951 to 2017, exceeding the global rate. The average precipitation of China was 641.3 mm in 2017, 1.8% more than average precipitation of previous years. The sea level rise was 3.3mm/year from 1980 to 2017. There was an annual increase in concentrations of carbon dioxide from 1990 to 2016. The annual mean concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide at Wanliguan Station were 404.4 ppm, 1907 ppb and 329.7 ppb separately in 2016, slightly higher than the global mean concentration in 2016.[2]

Public opinion

According to the Chinese citizen climate change recognition and understanding report[3] conducted by the China Climate Change Communication program, 94% of interviewees supported fulfilling the Paris agreement, 96.8% of interviewees supported international cooperation on global climate change, and more than 70% of interviewees were willing to purchase environmentally friendly products. 98.7% of interviewees supported implementing climate change education at schools. Respondents were most concerned about the air pollution caused by climate change. The investigation included 4025 samples.[3]

The investigation showed that Chinese citizens agreed that they were experiencing climate change, and that it was caused by human activities.[4]

Furthermore, most Chinese citizens believe individual action on climate change can help, although the government is still seen as the entity most responsible for dealing with climate change. If the government does take action, fiscal and taxation policies are seen as potentially effective.[5]

Government stance

Climate change has not been a priority to China until recently, when this issue was brought to a higher platform. China as a unitary state is not a federal system, as presented by its typical hierarchy. For example, the central government makes decisions and the local governments fulfill them. As a result, the local governments receive constraints and are measured by their performance from the central governments. Solving environmental issues such as climate change requires long-term investments in money, resources, and time. It is believed that these efforts will be detrimental to economic growth, which is of particular importance to the promotion of local government executives. This is why local governments have no engagement in addressing this issue[6].

Attitudes of the Chinese government on climate change, specifically regarding the role of China in climate change action, have shifted notably in recent years. Historically, climate change was largely seen as a problem that has been created by and should be solved by industrialized countries; in 2015, China said it supports the "common but differentiated responsibilities" principle,[7] which holds that since China is still developing, its abilities and capacities to reduce emissions are comparatively lower than developed countries'.

Recently, the government has urged countries to continue to support the Paris agreement, even in the wake of the United States' withdrawal in 2017.[8]

Effects of climate change

China has and will suffer some of the effects of global warming, including sea level rise, glacier retreat and air pollution.

The implications of climate change impose serious setbacks on global health and will hinder the economic development of various regions worldwide impacting countries on more than just the basic environmental scale. As in the case of China, we will see the effects on a social and economic level.

China's first National Assessment of Global Climate Change, released in the 2000s by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), states that China already suffers from the environmental impacts of climate change: increase of surface and ocean temperature, rise of sea level.[9][better source needed] Qin Dahe, former head of China's Meteorological Administration, has said that temperatures in the Tibetan Plateau of China are rising four times faster than anywhere else.[10] Rising sea level is an alarming trend because China has a very long and densely populated coastline, with some of the most economically developed cities such as Shanghai, Tianjin, and Guangzhou situated there. Chinese research has estimated that a one-meter rise in sea level would inundate 92,000 square kilometers of China's coast, thereby displacing 67 million people.[11][better source needed]

There has also been an increased occurrence of climate-related disasters such as drought and flood, and the amplitude is growing. These events have grave consequences for productivity when they occur, and also create serious repercussions for natural environment and infrastructure. This threatens the lives of billions and aggravates poverty.

Furthermore, climate change will worsen the uneven distribution of water resources in China. Outstanding rises in temperature would exacerbate evapo-transpiration, intensifying the risk of water shortage for agricultural production in the North. Although China's southern region has an abundance of rainfall, most of its water is lost due to flooding. As the Chinese government faces challenges managing its expanding population, an increased demand for water to support the nation's economic activity and people will burden the government. In essence, a water shortage is indeed a large concern for the country.[11][better source needed]

Lastly, climate change could endanger human health by increasing outbreaks of disease and their transmission. After floods, for example, infectious diseases such as diarrhea and cholera are all far more prevalent. These effects would exacerbate the degradation of the ecologically fragile areas in which poor communities are concentrated pushing thousands back into poverty.[12][better source needed]


The negative effects on China's agriculture caused by climate change have appeared. There was an increase in agricultural production instability, severe damages caused by high temperature and drought, and lower production and quality in prairie. In the near future, climate change may cause negative influences, causing a reduction of output in wheat, rice and corn, and change agricultural distribution of production.[13][better source needed]

Forest and other natural ecosystems

Climate change increases forest belt limits and frequencies of pests and diseases, decreases frozen earth areas, and threatens to decrease glacial areas in the northwest China. The vulnerability of ecosystems may increase due to future climate change.[13][better source needed]

Water resource and coastal zone

Climate change decreased total water resources in north China while increasing total water resources in south China. There were more floods, drought and extreme weather events. There may be a big impact in the spatial and temporal distribution in China's water resources, increasing extreme weather events and natural disasters. Climate change caused an increase in sea level, threatening to impair the functions of harbors.[13][better source needed]


Some regions in China will be exposed to a 50 percent higher malaria transmission probability rate (Béguin et al., 2011).[14][better source needed]

Conclusion of IPCC

According to IPCC (2007), from 1900 to 2005, precipitation has declined in parts of southern Asia. By the 2050s, freshwater availability, including large river basins, is projected to decrease in Asian regions. Coastal areas, especially the delta areas in Asia, are projected to have increased flooding risk. Floods and droughts are expected to increase health concerns: diseases and mortality.[15]

Adaptation and Solution

In China's first NDC submission, key areas were identified for climate change adaptation, including agriculture, water resources, and vulnerable areas. It also mentioned that an adaptation strategy should be implemented through regional strategies. [16] Flooding in cities is being tackled by collecting and recycling rainwater.[17] In 2013, China issued its National Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation and set goals of reducing vulnerability, strengthening monitoring, and raising public awareness. Efforts on implementation have been put in adapting forestry, meteorological management, infrastructure, and risk planning. [18]

The development of technology and economy in China share more responsibility in tackling climate change. After facing the 2011 smog issue, China's government launched an extensive strategy, which is to improve air quality by reducing the growth of coal consumption. Nevertheless, the trade war that involved China as one of the leading participants has resulted in the loss control of polluting industries, especially in the steel and cement during 2018. Fortunately, nearly 70 multinational and local brands implemented the monitoring data by The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) in China, stimulating nearly 8,000 suppliers approaching regulatory violations[19].

Internally in the provinces of China, there are various projects held aiming to solve emissions reduction and energy-saving, which is a big step in tackling climate change. Beijing is developing in replacing traditional bulbs with energy-saving light bulbs. Provinces such as Rizhao and Dezhou are promoting solar energy in the building heating system. Besides, Tsinghua University launched a lead on low-carbon city development. The city is currently working with Tsinghua University to improve the urban environment by introducing renewable energy into industries and households.[20]

See also


  1. ^ "China National communication 3: Part III Impacts of Climate Change and Adaptation". Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  2. ^ 2170. "《中国气候变化蓝皮书》:年平均气温显著上升--人民网环保频道--人民网". Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b "中国公众气候变化与气候传播认知情况调研报告" (PDF). 中国公众气候变化与气候传播认知情况调研报告. November 2017.
  4. ^ "2017年中国公众气候变化与气候传播认知状况调研报告发布". 2 November 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  5. ^ Yu, Hao; Wang, Bing; Zhang, Yue-Jun; Wang, Shouyang; Wei, Yi-Ming (22 May 2013). "Public perception of climate change in China: results from the questionnaire survey". Natural Hazards. 69 (1): 459–472. doi:10.1007/s11069-013-0711-1. ISSN 0921-030X.
  6. ^ Qi, Y., Ma, L., Zhang, H., & Li, H. (2008). Translating a Global Issue Into Local Priority: China’s Local Government Response to Climate Change. The Journal of Environment & Development, 17(4), 379–400. []
  7. ^ "China reaffirms the key principle of 'common but differentiated responsibility'". Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  8. ^ "China Is a Climate Leader but Still Isn't Doing Enough on Emissions, Report Says". Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  9. ^ [][permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "The Indus Equation Report, Strategic Foresight Group" (PDF).
  11. ^ a b "Digication e-Portfolio :: Eda Charmaine Gimenez :: Welcome".
  12. ^ "Climate Change Aggravates Poverty". Oxfam Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  13. ^ a b c "Climate Change in China | Shangri-la Institute". Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  14. ^ Why a 4 degree centrigrade warmer world must be avoided November 2012 World Bank
  15. ^ "IPCC Working group III fourth assessment report, Summary for Policymakers 2007" (PDF).[dead link]
  16. ^ China's First NDC Submission[]
  17. ^ "China taps into global expertise in climate change battle against increasing floods and drought". South China Morning Post. 9 July 2019. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  19. ^ How China Can Truly Lead the Fight Against Climate Change []
  20. ^ Translating a Global Issue Into Local Priority: China’s Local Government Response to Climate Change Qi, Y., Ma, L., Zhang, H., & Li, H. (2008). Translating a Global Issue Into Local Priority: China’s Local Government Response to Climate Change. The Journal of Environment & Development, 17(4), 379–400. []

External links