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China publishes comprehensive plan to deal with climate change

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Shanghai China (Shutterstock)
Shanghai China (Shutterstock)

The potential threats stemming from global climate change is something that countries across the world are considering — China is now the latest to publish a comprehensive look at what pitfalls might await it due to global warming and how it can work around those challenges. According to The Wall Street Journal, this new plan covers a number of initiatives the country wants to put into action by 2020 to fight the effects of climate change. It's not dissimilar to the climate change executive order President Obama released last month. That order called upon agencies like the Department of Defense, EPA, and NOAA to create plans of their own; China's plan has already been signed off by the ministries of finance, housing, transportation, water, agriculture and forestry.

At a high level, the report calls for improvements to early-warning systems for natural disasters, greater protection of nature and wildlife, better farming practices, and improvements to China's infrastructure.There's also a few more creative measures included in the proposal, including extreme weather insurance like "catastrophe bonds" and weather index-based insurance. The latter provides insurance when weather variables, like rainfall, reach certain pre-determined levels — it's often used by small farmers in developing countries to protect against inadequate crops and financial difficulties stemming from low rainfall.

It's a broad plan, but China admits that it'll have to prioritize the many measures contained within to make sure it helps the country's most vulnerable regions in a cost-effective way. "The government needs to decide what are the most cost-effective measures and which measures will produce the most significant impact," said Fuqiang Yang, senior adviser on energy, environment and climate at the National Resources Defense Council. "China doesn't have that much money or resources to address everything on this list." Nonetheless, it's clear that China wants to take action, and has some compelling statistics for doing so — the report states that climate change has already cost the country more than ¥200 billion ($32.9 billion) since 1990, while 2,000 citizens have died from extreme weather-related disasters in the same time period.