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[BEIJING] China will soon release its first comprehensive national programme to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This follows the release of two reports with dire predictions for China's food production and coastal cities due to global warming.

According to Lu Xuedu, deputy director of the office of global environment affairs, the four-year programme will outline goals for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and developing green technologies.

It will solicit international cooperation for technology transfer projects, include policy guidelines to support studies or corporate plans to combat climate change, and will seek to raise public awareness of the effects of climate change.

Lu said the programme would be a "guideline", and therefore mentions few numerical targets in describing future goals.

He told SciDev.Net it was "hard and unrealistic" to set specific goals in some areas and that, despite increased attention from the government to climate change, many government officials are still not aware of its threats.

The plans, which took two years to prepare, will go to the State Council for final approval later this month with a view to launching the programme in two months.

Zou Ji, a climate policy expert involved in drafting the plans, said issues related to improving energy efficiency, developing recycling energy and coal-gas exploration play a key role.

Zou, of the Renmin University of China, said the programme would provide a strong basis for coordination between departments at different government levels with the same goal of battling climate change.

Earlier this week (6 February), six central departments and academic organisations — including the Ministry of Science and Technology, China Meteorological Administration and the Chinese Academy of Sciences — released a report on climate change in China.

It predicts that China will see continued temperature rises up to 2100, which could reduce grain production by up to 37 per cent in the second half of this century.

The report also warns of rapidly melting glaciers. Fang Aimin, a glacier expert at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics told SciDev.Net that glacier loss on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau would severely reduce flow in some major rivers, including the Yangtze and Yellow rivers.

A separate report released by the State Oceanic Administration last month highlighted how coastal cities have suffered terrible erosion due to recent sea-level rise.

The report predicts a rapid rise in sea level of 9–31 millimetres over the next 3–10 years, largely due to global warming. However, the authors also blame groundwater extraction in some cities.

Lu Xuedu said the speed of sea-level rise was "astonishing". He told SciDev.Net that if the situation continued, the government would "either have to build coastal dams or relocate local people, both of which will definitely be costly".

He added that strengthening research capacity would enable China to come up with radical solutions to the threat.