Policy framework for climate adaptation

In the Outline of the 12th Five-Year Plan (FYP) for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China, issued in 2010, it was the first time that addressing climate change was established as a separate chapter, putting forward the strategic requirements for enhancing capacity for climate change and considering impacts of climate change in planning and urban construction.

In 2013, the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China clearly put forward the task of establishing “ecological civilization”, and tackling climate change was set as an important component of ecological civilization.

In 2015, the Opinions on Accelerating the Construction of Ecological Civilization was issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, which emphasized the urgency to improve the capacity for climate change adaptation, especially the capacity to cope with extreme weather and climate events, to strengthen monitoring, early warning and prevention, and in key sectors and in ecologically fragile regions, such as agriculture, forestry, water resources, etc.

In 2016, climate change was addressed in the second section of Chapter 46 of the 13th FYP, namely Active Response to Global Climate Change. It is mentioned that climate change needs to be fully considered in economic and social activities such as urban and rural planning, infrastructure construction and productivity distribution; timely formulation, and adjustment of relevant technical standards. 13th FYP also requires to strengthen systematic observation and scientific research on climate change, to improve forecasting and early warning systems, and to enhance the capacity to cope with extreme weather and climate events.

Action plans for urban adaptation to climate change

In February 2016, City Climate Adaptation Action Plan was published by the NDRC and MoHURD, which focuses on taking climate adaptation actions in cities and provides guidance to them for implementing the plan from various aspects including planning, infrastructure, construction, water system, urban greening, and disaster risk management. The Plan has put forward the target that by 2020, the indicators related to climate adaptation will be universally incorporated into the urban and rural planning system, construction standards and industrial development planning, and 30 climate adaptation pilot cities will be built. The government’s ability at the city level will be significantly improved, and the penetration rate of green buildings will reach 50%. By 2030, public awareness on climate adaptation will be improved, and the ability of cities to cope with various climate risks and relevant impacts will be significantly enhanced, namely inland flooding, drought and water shortage, high temperature and heat waves, strong winds and frost, etc.  In addition, seven main actions are also put forward:

  • To strengthen the guidance of urban planning,
  • To improve the design and construction standards of urban infrastructure,
  • To enhance the adaptation capacity of urban buildings,
  • giving full play to the function of urban ecological greening,
  • ensuring urban water security,
  • establishing an integrated risk management system for urban disasters, and
  • increasing cities’ science and technology capacity in adapting to climate change.

In August 2016, the NDRC and the MoHURD issued the Notice of the Pilot Work of Climate Adaptation City Construction and the Work Program for Climate Adaptation City Construction, requiring provincial Development and Reform Commissions and the Housing and Construction Department to recommend climate adaptation pilot cities. According to this Notice, pilot cities should take actions on the four following aspects:

  • assessment of impacts and vulnerabilities of urban climate change,
  • formulation of action plans,
  • organization of actions for climate adaptation, and
  • capability building.

In February 2017, NDRC and MoHURD published “National Pilot Scheme of Climate Adaptation City”, which selected 28 pilot areas of climate adaptation city construction (Figure below). By 2020, the infrastructure of the pilot areas will be improved, the adaptation capacity will be improved notably, and public awareness will be significantly enhanced. Moreover, a bunch of typical, pilot cities will reach an advanced international level as well as a series of repeatable and generalizable pilot experience will be formed. Through no measurable indicators or requirements are indicated in this announcement, national ministries urged the pilots to set up their own objectives, specific adaptation projects, and assign responsible departments in their action plans.

Overall progress

All pilot cities have put forward action plans according to the status quo, and integrated key indicators into urban planning, including the ecological protection red line, emergency plans for meteorological disasters, urban greening or public transport development, etc. Some pilot cities have also worked out special climate adaptation construction planning, ecological restoration planning, ecological green corridor planning, and other planning in the related field. Besides, they’ve prioritized and added the component of climate adaptation into the overall plan of ecological civilization construction, which is at the top of the government agenda.

Pilot cities have been implementing adaptation action plans coping with various climate risks, such as heavy rainfall, storm, heat waves, frost or haze, etc. They enforce energy-saving standards for green buildings and promote sponge city construction, underground pipeline corridor construction, retrofitting old residential areas and integrated management of underground space. The strategies also include the promotion of clean energy vehicles, upgrading, and reconstruction of highways and waterways, climate risk management, monitoring, emergency response and early warning system, improving urban ecosystem stability, and risk-resistant capacity.

Quite a few capability building activities on climate adaptation have been conducted to improve awareness and strengthen the coordination amongst relevant departments. The pilot cities set up leading groups for pilot construction, management systems involving the government, enterprises, communities, residents and other subjects, expert teams, as well as network platforms for popular science education, and organize various forms of publicity and education activities, in order to improve the publicity of climate change information.

International cooperation is highly promoted and supported by the ministries. Changde, Lishui, Xixian, Qingdao, Baise and other pilot cities have carried out project cooperation with the Asian Development Bank, GIZ, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Rockefeller Foundation, Institute for Sustainable Communities and other bilateral and multilateral agencies and international organizations in the field of ecological adaptation, disaster prevention and mitigation, climate risk assessment, climate-smart agriculture, etc. A series of activities about climate change risk analysis, planning and research has been launched.

Source: SGUP Keystone Paper

Sino-German Urbanisation Partnership

The partnership is working to influence political dialogue to address the challenges created by a fast-paced urbanization process and climate change in both China and Germany. It aims to create platforms for cross-city institutional exchange of experiences, facilitate knowledge exchange and promote capacity building that can drive the development of joint solutions to these challenges. Key targets of the exchange are to reduce CO2 emissions, promote a more balanced urbanization development and improve quality of life in cities in both China and Germany.