II. Adapting to Climate Change
In 2011 and 2012, the Chinese government took effective measures to enhance the capability of key sectors to adapt to climate change and reduced the negative impact of climate change on economic and social development, production and the people's welfare.
The Ministry of Agriculture has energetically pursued the consolidation of farmland and water conservation infrastructure and the overall improvement of agricultural productivity. It encouraged the large-scale construction of farmland capable of producing stable yields despite drought or flood conditions. It developed new large-scale irrigation areas and renovated existing facilities, including irrigation and drainage pump stations, to expand the area under irrigation and improve irrigation efficiency. It continued to promote the cultivation of high quality seed varieties with high yield potential and resistance to drought, flooding, high temperature, diseases and pests. It increased subsidies to accelerate the cultivation, reproduction and dissemination of superior crop strains. Currently, more than 95 percent of the farmland used for planting major crops nationwide is sown with superior strains, contributing about 40 percent of the increase in grain output.
The ministry has proactively advanced innovation in water-saving agricultural technology, focusing on the integration of engineering, infrastructure, biology, agronomy and management techniques, and the promotion of regionally-applicable core technology. Nine water-saving technologies were demonstrated and promoted, including full plastic film mulching on double ridges and planting in catchment furrows, under-mulch drip irrigation and soil moisture-based on-demand irrigation. Water-saving agricultural demonstration bases were constructed around the country, and water productivity increased by 10-30 percent over the period prior to the implementation of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010). These efforts have helped ensure a steady increase of grain output in drought-stricken areas and continuous income growth for farmers.
(II) Forestry and the Ecosystem
The State Forestry Administration published the Action Points for China's Forestry Departments in Response to Climate Change During the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015) Period, in which it sets out four major actions to be taken by forestry supervision authorities nationwide to adapt to climate change, inclduing intensified efforts in forest management, prevention of forest fires and control of harmful pests, forest structure optimization, and improvement of forest health. Governments at all levels have fully implemented the Circular of the General Office of the State Council on Strengthening Management of Nature Reserves. Stringent measures have been taken to control development of nature reserves across the country. Supervision and management have been strengthened to better protect major ecological zones and key areas of biological diversity around the country. The government has improved its efforts to protect wild life and ensure the sound construction of nature reserves. By the end of 2011, the country had had 23 new state-level nature reserves. Forestry authorities nationwide had a total of 2,126 nature reserves under management, covering an area of 123 million hectares and accounting for 12.78 percent of the nation's total land area. The government completed a survey of wetland resources in different provincial-level regions accounting for more than 80 percent of the country's land area, implemented 39 wetland protection programs nationwide, constructed more than 100 stations for wetland protection and management, brought 330,000 hectares of new wetland under protection, restored 23,000 hectares of existing wetland, established four new wetlands of international importance and developed 68 pilot national wetland parks. The government published the Communiqué on the Biological Status of Chinese Wetlands of International Importance, which includes an index for evaluating the biological health of China's wetlands that is of great help in strengthening the restoration and protection of the country's wetlands.
(III) Water Resources
The State Council released the Opinions on Implementing the Strictest Water Resources Management System, which has become a major document guiding the country's water resource management. The document states the necessity of implementing a strict water resources control system, and explicitly specifies the main measures to be taken in three Red Lines – control of the development and use of water resources, control of water use efficiency, and restriction of pollutants in water functional areas. Measures to be taken to boost the construction of a water-saving society in an all-round way include: strictly implementing the permit system for water withdrawal; strictly practicing reimbursable usage system on water resources; strictly implementing planning and enhancement of water resource assessments. The State Council has officially approved the National Water Function Zoning in Major Rivers and Lakes, the National Rural Drinking Water Safety Project for the 12th Five-year Plan Period (2011-2015) and the National Water Resources Development Plan (2011-2015). The Ministry of Water Resources has formulated a number of water resource development plans, including the National Utilization and Protection of Underground Water. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has promoted the development of water-saving industrial systems and worked together with the Ministry of Water Resources and the National Water Conservation Office to issue the Notice on Further Promoting the Construction of Water-saving Enterprises.
A number of key engineering projects have been accelerated, including key water conservancy projects, major water resource projects, and the harnessing of large rivers. Urgent measure have been taken to reinforce dangerously defective large and medium-sized reservoirs and sluices, harness the main sections of key small and medium-sized rivers, support major irrigation areas, build supporting facilities, make water-saving renovations and upgrade drainage pump stations. The government has also begun construction of small-scale irrigation and water conservancy facilities in key counties, pushed forward comprehensive control of soil erosion and conversion of farmland slopes into terraces, accelerated the harnessing of ecologically vulnerable rivers, implemented programs to promote conservation and rational use of water resources, and carried out rural electrification projects and the small hydropower station for fuel project.
By carrying out the above policies and actions, China effectively addressed a number of large-scale severe droughts that continued to hit the winter wheat producing areas in north China, as well as areas in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and southwestern China. The country also guaranteed safe supplies of drinking water to 70 million rural residents through the rural drinking water safety project. In addition, it overcame the severe autumn floods on the Yangtze River, Lancang River and the Yellow River, and successfully dealt with the impact of seven typhoons and tropical storms in 2011. The major disaster loss index was far lower than the average level of past years, and the death toll from flooding was the lowest since the foundation of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
(IV) Marine Resources
The State Oceanic Administration has begun compiling several plans, including China's Marine Medium and Long-term Plan in Response to Climate Change (2011-2020), the National Scientific and Technological Actions on Climate Change During the 12th Five-Year Plan Period (Marine Area), the Outline of China's Marine Science and Technology Development During the 12th Five-Year Plan Period and the Overall Plan for National Ocean Observing Network (2011-2020). It has carried out research, evaluation and predictions of the effects of weather events like El Niño and La Niña on the oceans and climate change, and has compiled and released the Marine and Major Weather Events Bulletin and the Newsletter on Adaptation to Climate Change in Marine Area. It has also compiled the Research Report on Monitoring and Evaluation of the Effect of Climate Change on the Marine Life and the Special Report on Sea Level Rise Impact Assessments. The State Oceanic Administration has strengthened conservation in key marine ecosystems and improved climate change response monitoring. It has built a network to monitor air-sea CO2 exchange in waters under Chinese jurisdiction, and has carried out monitoring and evaluation of the marine carbon cycle. It has upgraded the coastal marine climate observation network and strengthened disaster prevention and emergency rescue system in the islands and coastal regions. It has also initiated marine disaster risk assessment and zoning work, vigorously supported local costal governments in carrying out island engineering and restoration projects and completed the revision of marine functional zoning. Since a special fund for island protection was established in 2012, the central government has invested a total of 200 million yuan to support 15 local island protection projects.
(V) Public Health
In order to comprehensively strengthen and improve the supervision and monitoring of drinking water quality, and to ensure the supply of safe drinking water to urban and rural areas, the Ministry of Health issued Guidance on Strengthening the Supervision and Monitoring on Drinking Water Quality, the National Urban Drinking Water Safety Protection Plan (2011-2020), the Notice on Further Strengthening the Supervision and Monitoring of Drinking Water Quality and the 2012 National Drinking Water Supervision and Monitoring Work Plan.
Supervision and monitoring of drinking water quality have been stepped up. In order to regulate the procedure for licensing water supply units, a new national health standard for drinking water was implemented on July 1, 2012. A nationwide drinking water quality monitoring system has been established in all provincial jurisdictions. In 2012, a total of 220 million yuan was invested to support local government monitoring of drinking water quality. The reporting system for infectious diseases has been improved. The system for surveillance, reporting, prevention and control of communicable diseases has been strengthened. Particular attention has been paid to the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases like dengue fever and fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome that are closely related to climate change, as well as hand, foot and mouth disease and other intestinal infectious diseases. By the end of 2011, all state-level disease prevention and control institutions, over 98 percent of county level medical institutions, and 94 percent of township hospitals had joined the direct network reporting system. The number of reporting units reached 68,000.
The China Meteorological Administration has begun drafting the National Actions on Climate Change During the 12th Five-Year Plan Period and has clarified the priorities and tasks of the meteorological department in addressing climate change during the 12th Five-Year Plan period. It has released the Climate Change Green Paper: Tackling Climate Change Report (2011), China's Climate Change Monitoring Bulletin 2010 and the Technical Guidance Manual for Meteorological Department to Address Climate Change: version 3.0. It has also begun drafting technical guidelines for meteorological disaster risk assessment. It has published the Second Assessment Report on China's Climate Change jointly with the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and has completed climate change assessment reports for eight river basins including the Three Gorges reservoir area of the Yangtze River and the Poyang Lake Basin. It has also completed assessments of food production in northeast and central China, and on industries with local advantages in Xinjiang and Shaanxi.
The steady development of the modernization of observation systems means China's climate monitoring capability is constantly improving. One result is that climate resources can be used more efficiently aided by facilities such as a recently established wind and solar power forecasting platform. Efforts to adapt to climate change at the provincial level are aided by a careful analysis of the geographical distribution of agricultural and climate resources.
(VII) Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Systems
The Ministry of Civil Affairs has revised the National Emergency Plan on Natural Disaster Relief and submitted it to the State Council for approval. The revised version contains notable improvements regarding early warning and response systems, drought relief, transitional relief and the departments emergency response system. The Ministry of Civil Affairs has organized research into national disaster prevention and mitigation strategies, promulgated and implemented the National Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Plan (2011-2015), issued Interim Regulations on the Management of the Natural Disaster Relief Funds, Regulations on Storage and Management of Government Relief Goods, Guidelines on Strengthening Natural Disaster Relief Assessment and Interim Regulations on Formation and Management of the Disaster Reduction Model Communities. The Ministry of Civil Affairs also issued the Interim Regulations on the Management of the Natural Disaster Relief Funds jointly with the Ministry of Finance, and issued Guidelines on Strengthening Natural Disaster Social-psycho Assistance on behalf of the National Disaster Reduction Committee. The Ministry of Water Resources has issued regulations including Opinions on Further Strengthening the Typhoon Disaster Prevention Work and Inspection Procedures for Hidden Dykes Danger. In order to accelerate the creation of a geological disaster prevention system throughout the country, the Ministry of Land and Resources oversaw the drafting of the Decision of the State Council on Strengthening the Prevention and Control of Geological Disasters. It also began compiling the National Actions on Geological Disaster Prevention During the 12th Five-Year Plan Period, which clarified the objectives and key tasks of geological disaster prevention during the 12th Five-Year Plan period. In order to better implement urban flood control, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development issued the Circular on Strengthening Prevention Measures of Urban Waterlogging and on Carrying out Urban Flood Control in 2012.
Member units of the National Disaster Reduction Committee have improved monitoring and early warning mechanisms for natural disasters, with more emphasis placed on early warning capabilities for extreme weather and climate events. The construction of the second phase of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Command System has been accelerated. Greater importance is being attached to improving cities' ability to cope with torrential rain and other extreme weather disasters, and a rainstorm, flood and drought risk assessment system has been established.