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National Program Targets Climate Change
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Having been a major victim of climate change, China is formulating plans to cope with the problem.

The country is working on its first national program to mitigate and adapt to climate change, according to a high-ranking environmental official.

A common program for all government agencies is important, because as the central government is paying increasing attention to climate change, most local officials are still not quite aware of the issue, said Lu Xuedu, deputy director of the division to oversee environmental affairs under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST).

Lu said the program will set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emission, and for developing climate-friendly technologies.

It will outline the facts and effects of climate change, and will also formulate policies to support climate-related international cooperation and technology transfers, the official said.

The draft of the program will be submitted to the State Council, the Chinese Cabinet, for approval late this month, Lu told China Daily.

But he said the program will be "more of a guideline" rather than setting specific targets.

He said it would be "unrealistic to set specific goals in some areas" at this time.

The program is envisaged to be "a three-year scheme", although environmental officials hope it can be expanded and become applicable over a longer period.

Zou Ji, a climate policy expert involved in drafting the program, said China has already made progress in improving energy efficiency, developing recycling energy and coal-gas exploration.

But more importantly, the program will have a legal basis, necessitating all government agencies work with each other in battling climate change, said Zou, a professor with Renmin University.

Lu said implement plans to mitigate the effects of global warming was now a serious challenge for China.

A report released recently said that temperatures would keep rising through this century as a result of increased energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, with warmer winters in North China being the most obvious features.

The report was co-authored by six central government agencies and academic bodies, including MST, China Meteorological Administration and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

It predicted that the average annual temperature would rise 1.3-2.1 C by 2020, and 2.3-3.3 C by 2050.

Another report released by the State Oceanic Administration last month also warned of a rapid rise in sea levels.

It said that the country had witnessed an average annual sea-level rise of 2.5 mm in recent years, and predicted that in the next 3-10 years, the sea level would continue to rise by 9-31 mm over the 2006 level.

"The speed is astonishing," Lu said. "Coastal cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou will confront unimaginable challenges if the situation deteriorates."

(China Daily February 16, 2007)

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