When world leaders meet in Copenhagen in December to thrash out the replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, a small number of nations will play a pivotal role. Having looked at Brazil last issue, we now shift the focus to China.
The stated objectives of China's National Climate Change Program are: to make significant achievements in controlling GHG emissions; to enhance the capability of continuous adaptation to climate change; to promote climate-change-related science, technology and R&D to a new level; to raise public awareness of climate change; and to further strengthen institutions and mechanisms on climate change.
China was the first major developing economy to issue an action plan. The process was led by the National Development and Reform Commission, with input from leading universities. Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan and State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan now head a National Coordination Committee on Climate Change, which includes 17 ministries and agencies, to orchestrate climate-change policy.
Much of the plan builds on ongoing programmes. The emphasis is on building R&D and technical capacity within the country. It identifies potential emission reductions of some interventions. There is strong new emphasis on institutional reform, and coordination across agencies in implementing the plan.
The plan stresses the need for adaptation of human and natural systems without hindering economic development. There is also a great focus on national level policy/legislative approaches to enhance China's overall adaptive capacity. The adaptation strategies proposed tend to be large in scope and scale - the vision of the plan is impressive, but the document lacks specific targets and action-steps for realising these goals.