In what it flagged as the first climate change programme for emissions reduction by a developing nation, the government outlined in the 62-page document – ‘China’s National Climate Change Programme’ – various initiatives underway to mitigate the problem. These ranged from the energy mix and efficiency, land use and conservation, development patterns and family planning.

The report states that climate change presents a challenge to the country’s coal-dominated energy infrastructure. It adds that limitations of sufficient alternative resources, timely availability of new technologies and funds, plus legacy issues, all combine to mean the country will have ‘more difficulties than other countries’ in decreasing its carbon intensity per unit of energy.

However, the country aims to put significant effort into development of renewables. It plans to have renewables, including large hydro power, as 10% of the primary energy mix by 2010.

The report says that hydro power is to be developed on the pre-condition of protecting the ecosystem, and it stated that the energy resource ‘should be regarded as an important countermeasure to promote a cleaner and less carbon intensive energy mix’. As such, and recognising the need also to ensure water resource security in an era of climate change, the plan calls for the development of hydro power to be expedited.

China’s water resources have already felt the effects of climate change in terms of their distribution, the report says. More precisely, there has been a trend of decreasing runoff over the last 40 years in the six main rivers – Haihe, Huaihe, Yellow, Songhuajiang, Yangtze and Pearl. At the same time there is evidence of more variability in hydrological extremes, such as drought in the north and flooding in the south, it adds.

While presenting the report, the National Development and Reform Commission emphasised that while dealing with the mitigation requirements of climate change was an issue with environmental and development aspects, it was the government view that it was ultimately an issue of development. As a consequence, greater opportunities also exist for other energy resources, such as nuclear and coal-bed methane.

The report addresses observation and trends of the climate in China, the country’s current greenhouse gas emissions, and efforts underway to mitigate the effects of climate change. It noted that hydro power’s share of the primary energy mix increased from 5.1% to 7.2% over the 15 years to 2005.

By the end of 2005, the total installed capacity of hydro power in China had reached 117GW, equating to almost a quarter of the national electricity generation capacity, the report says. The electricity generated was 401 TWh, which was 16.2% of the total, it adds.