UK-China agree to promote cooperation on climate change risk assessment at COP 21

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UK and China are committed to jointly promoting climate risk assessment.

At the Paris climate talks on 8th December, the UK Committee on Climate Change and China National Expert Committee on Climate Change, the two most prestigious advisory bodies to each country on climate change and energy issues signed a Working Agreement. This project aims to improve the assessment of climate change risk, and enhance the understanding of UK and Chinese government leaders as well as their policy-making bodies of the risks of climate change.

This Working Agreement is based on the fruitful collaboration between the two countries over the last two years. A report “Climate Change – A Risk Assessment” was produced by experts from the UK, China, the US and India and launched in London and Beijing earlier this year. The work has gained important recognition at several high level occasions especially the Chinese president’s visit to the UK in October.

This report argues that the risks of climate change should be assessed in the same way as risks to national security or public health. That means focusing on understanding the worst things that could happen, and how likely they are to occur. It identified thresholds of risks generated by climate change. These include limits of human tolerance for heat stress, and limits of crops’ tolerance for high temperature as well as potential limits to coastal cities’ ability to successfully adapt to rising sea levels. The report recommends climate change risk assessments should be updated regularly and communicated to political leaders at the highest level.

In this Working Agreement, the two Committees agreed to ongoing close cooperation on climate change risk assessment. This includes identifying indicators of risks and carrying out cooperation and research in the three priority areas: the pathway of global emissions; the direct risks faced by natural systems due to climate change; and the risks arising from the interaction of climate change with complex human systems. A high-level steering group will be formed to provide overall direction and guidance to the risk assessment process and to communicate the findings to top leaders of their own country.

A work meeting will be co-organised by the two Committees in January 2016 to bring experts from the UK and China to talk in detail on implementation of this agreement.

Sir David King, the British Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative on Climate Change spoke at the meeting and said:

The aim of today’s agreement is for scientific expertise to deliver the information necessary to help our leaders form a view on the overall scale of the risks of climate change.

This should show the level of priority needed to manage these risks.

Deputy Director General of Climate Change Department of NDRC of China, Mr. Sun Zhen also attended the meeting and acknowledged the long term cooperation between experts from the two countries on climate change. He said:

The UK has rich experience in risk management. I hope this UK-China working agreement between the two Committees would further promote tangible cooperation between two countries in the area of climate change risk management, and provide recommendations for policy makers of both the UK and China.

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