The authorities will introduce an ambitious program to combat climate change at the provincial level, with financial and technological support from the United Nations and Norway.
"It is the first time that the country will launch a pilot program to encourage local governments to face the issue and take practical measures," Shen Yiyang, an expert from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) who is working on the project, said.
Shen said the project will cover provinces and autonomous regions that are sensitive to climate change, such as Qinghai, Tibet and Ningxia, as well as fossil-fuel-intensive provinces and autonomous regions like Shanxi, Liaoning, Inner Mongolia and Hebei.
Under the project, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and UNDP will set up a diagnosis system for each pilot province or autonomous region to analyze the effects of climate change as well as opportunities for mitigation.
And it is expected that efforts to adapt to climate change could eventually be included into local development plans in pilot areas, Shen said.
"At present, few people in China are fully aware of the severe problems caused by climate change, let alone the need to map out long-term contingency plans, monitor greenhouse gas emissions or collect related information," Shen said.
For example, on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, where glaciers are melting because of the rising temperatures, river runoff has increased, posing a threat to the country's water supply.
"But few people realize the potentially disastrous results of such a situation, which holds consequences not only for regions of western China, but also for downstream communities along the Yangtze and Yellow rivers," Shen said.
Both the NDRC and UNDP expect the project to be expanded to all provinces and regions to help the country better adapt to global warming while mitigating the effect of climate change.
Another outcome expected from the project is helping poverty-stricken people in western China, where the environment is fragile, to improve their lives.
"These people are suffering the most from climate change and environmental degradation," Shen said.
The UNDP will abide by its rule of connecting climate change to local development, he said.
The project has pooled US$2 million from Norway and US$400,000 from the UNDP. The UNDP hopes to attract more money from other sources for pilot projects in areas other than those involved in the pilot provinces.
(China Daily April 18, 2007)