Climate Change Country Profile: China
1. Country description
• World's third largest country, spanning some 50 degrees of latitude and 62
degrees of longitude
• Total land area: 9.6 million km2
• Coastline: 18 000 km,
• Borders the Republic of Korea, Viet Nam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic,
Myanmar, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan,
Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russian Federation
• Marine neighbours: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea,
Japan, Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Viet Nam.
Figure 1. Map of China
• Population: 1.3 billion in 2005
• Population distribution: most living in the east and south-east regions of China
1.3 Economic and industrial development characteristics
• Based on data of the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the economy of
China has experienced steady and fast growth in recent years.
Figure 2. Growth domestic product of China (1979–2006)
1.4 Climate (climatic zones, trends in temperature and precipitation)
• Temperatures vary greatly and are influenced by latitude and monsoon activities.
• From north to south, there are five temperature zones – cold-temperate, mid-
temperate, warm-temperate, subtropical, tropical – and a plateau climate zone.
• Annual average air temperature has increased by 0.5℃–0.8℃ in the past 100
years. Most of the temperature rise was observed over the last 50 years.
• The warming trend was more significant in western, eastern and northern China
than in the south.
• The most significant temperature increase occurred in winter, and 20
consecutive warm winters were observed nationwide from 1986 to 2005.
• Precipitation levels in China are fairly regular each year. Rainfall is increasing
from north-west to south-east because the eastern seashores are influenced more
than inland areas by the summer monsoon.
• In the past 100 years, annual precipitation in China has changed very little;
however, considerable variation exists among regions.
• Annual precipitation decreased gradually from the 1950s, with an average rate
of 2.9 mm/10a, although it increased slightly during the period of 1991–2000.
• In the eastern part of the north-west and north-eastern China, decreases in
precipitation averaged 20–40 mm/10a; while significant increases in
precipitation in southern and south-western China averaged 20–60 mm/10a.
Extreme weather events, sea level and glaciers
• Extreme weather events. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events
in China have increased over the last 50 years. Droughts are more common in
northern and north-eastern China, and floods are recurring in the middle and
lower reaches of the Yangtze River and south-eastern China.
• Sea level. The sea level along China’s coasts has been rising 2.5 mm per year
over the past 50 years, slightly higher than the global average.
• Glaciers. The mountain glaciers in China have retreated, and the trend is
2. Burden of climate-sensitive health outcomes
2.1 Data on current climate-sensitive disease burdens
Climate-sensitive diseases include heat-related diseases, vectorborne diseases,
waterborne diseases, diseases from urban air pollution, and diseases related to extreme
weather conditions such as floods, droughts, windstorms and fires.
• In recent years, due to climate change and variability, extreme weather and
climate events have been increasing.
• Directly, extreme weather conditions can increase crowd mortality for heat-
sensitive populations (e.g. the old, weak and babies), decrease immunity and
• Indirectly, they can increase communicable diseases by directly increasing
density and intensity of disease vectors. It is well known that epidemics follow
• Most of the data on climate and health in China are from cardio-cerebral
vascular diseases, respiratory diseases, schistosomiasis, vectorborne diseases
and waterborne diseases.
• Studies on the relationship between meteorological factors and diseases have
been carried out in China for around 10 years.
(1) Temperature and crowd mortality
• In summer, when maximum temperatures are reached, heat-related mortality
• However, the critical temperature for mortality is different in cities with
different latitude, which could be related to crowd thermal sensitivity and
adaptability in different regions.
(2) Disease vectors
• Vectorborne diseases are the most climate-sensitive infectious diseases in the
world. Global warming has enlarged the area for the vector, Aedes aegypti, from
22°N to 25°N in China in the past 24 years. However, the exact change for
A. albopictus is still unclear.
Figure 4. Climate Change Effects on the distribution of dengue fever vectors of
A.aegypti and A.albopictus
• Schistosomiasis prevalence in China is among the highest in the world. It is
most commonly found in areas with water that is contaminated with freshwater
snails, (Figure 5),which may carry the parasite.
• Due to climate change, the potential endemic area may move northwards.
Figure 5. Spatial distribution pattern of Oncomelania Snalis (1951–2000)
Figure 6. Spatial distribution pattern of Schistosoma japonicum (1951–2000)
(4) Waterborne infection
• The rising temperature of the sea surface is linked to increases of vibrio
cholera in water and increases of floating animals and plants density.
2.2 Potential impacts of climate change on health burden, i.e. qualitative
and quantitative projections of future health burdens.
Information is not available.
2.3 Information on particularly vulnerable populations.
Information is not available.
3. National programmes and projects
3.1 Programmes to reduce and/or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions
The Chinese Government issued a national plan called the “China National Climate
Change Program” on 4 June 2007. The 62-page action plan details the policies and
measures China will take to mitigate and adapt to climate change. To enforce the
greenhouse gas emission action, China has developed a series of laws, by-laws,
programmes and projects.
On 14 June 2007, China’s 14 departments issued an important action in response to
climate change and science and technology development, i.e. China’s Special S&T
Action in Response to Climate Change.
3.2 Climate change related studies and projects, including their roles in
the Second National Communications
Information is not available.
3.3 Further data and research needs on potential health impacts of climate
• Need to establish a series of methods and tools for analysis and evaluation of
the effects of climate warming on public health. This may be the first important
step for the entire world. Climate change will impact health.
• Need to increase data about meteorology factors to be shared by all the
researchers in the climate warming and health study programmes and projects.
• Need to set up a network for straightforward communication among domestic
and overseas scientists.
• Need to evaluate the effect of global warming over time and institute adapting
measures. Data will need to be collected. Research projects could look at
climate-sensitive people, disease reports, vector distribution and other
3.4 Current and expected programmes and activities for adaptation to
current and projected climate-related health burdens
Information is not available.
3.4 Institutional organization
Key organizations and/or institutions dealing with climate change:
• The State Council established the National Lead Group on 12 June 2007 to
address climate change. The group, headed by Premier Wen Jiabao, will be
responsible for deliberating and determining key national strategies, guidelines,
and measures to address climate change as well as coordinating and resolving
key issues relating to climate change.
• A regional administration system for coordinating climate change initiatives
was established to fulfil and implement the national programme.
3.5 Issues and challenges
Critical issues and challenges that the country faces in relation to mitigation and
adaptation to climate change to reduce health impacts:
• The effect of climate change on sustained agriculture development. In China,
56.1% of the population are farmers.
• The effect of climate change on forests and other ecosystems.
• The influence of climate change on water resources.
• The Influence of climate change on the coastal zone.
• The influence of climate change on public health. Extreme weather such as
floods and typhoons may increase the incidence of disease. It will also disable
and cause death in the temperature-sensitive population. Climate change and
variability may increase the occurrence and transmission of disease, enlarge the
distribution of disease-transmitting vectors and enhance their intensity.
• Challenges to the China development model
• Challenges in the resource structure of coal as the main energy resource
• Great challenges on the resource on self-innovation of the people of China
• Multiple challenges to the protection and development of forestation
• Long-term challenges in agriculture development
• New challenges on China water resource exploitation, management, and
• Practical challenges focusing on coastal region development
• Increasing public health standards to meet these challenges