[BEIJING] China's provincial governments will take action to adapt to and reduce the effects of climate change with funds and technology provided by Norway and the UN.
"It is the first time China has pushed local governments to face the issues and take practical measures to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change," said Shen Yiyang, an expert from the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
"Previously, the discussions and actions about global warming had stayed at the level of central government," he added.
Projects will take place in regions with ecosystems that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, such as Ningxia, Qinghai and Tibet, and in regions with high emissions of greenhouse gases such as Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Liaoning and Shanxi, says Shen.
Each region will initially assess how the projects can be carried out, depending on their region's individual characteristics.
"It is expected that every pilot province can include the adaptation [measures in their] local development plan," Shen said.
"Currently, most local governments in China have not been aware of the severe results of climate change, let alone mapping out long-term plans or monitoring emissions," he said.
The projects are set to improve poor people's lives in western China, an area where people's livelihoods are already being affected by environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change.
In the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, for example, melting glaciers have increased the amount of water in rivers. Shen says the local people have treated the extra river flow as a benefit, rather than realising the threat to water supplies if the glaciers melt completely.
The UNDP hopes the projects will eventually be spread to all provinces and regions in China to help lessen the impacts of climate change.
So far the project has attracted US$2 million from Norway and US$400,000 from the UNDP. The UNDP hopes other countries or environmental organisations will provide additional funding.