Climate Change and China’s Agricultural Sector: An Overview of Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation

Date period
31 May 2010

SummaryClimate influences virtually all aspects of life, but the impact on agricultural production is likely to be particularly important. Despite the fact that the relative magnitude of these impacts is still under debate, there is general consensus that China’s agriculture sector will be affected significantly. Moreover, since China is a large, important producing and trading nation, the impact of climate change on China will likely also affect the rest of the world via international trade. In addition, the nature of the climate impact will be affected by the agriculture sector’s own growth since its emissions also contribute to climate change. Among all sources of emissions, agriculture is one of the most important contributors. 

While agriculture is one of the most important sources of emissions of greenhouse gases, the sector is increasingly being recognized for its potential to be part of the solution. Within China, the combination of climate change and rapid economic growth will force the nation to look for new ways to both deal with the unfolding changes in weather patterns and find effective mitigation policies/measures. 

The overall goal of this paper is to review and document the likely impacts of climate change on China’s agricultural production, efforts that China might be able to make in reducing greenhouses gas emissions from agriculture, and analyze how these efforts would in turn impact agricultural productivity and trade. In order to realize this goal, we have the following specific objectives. First, we will synthesize the likely impacts of climate change on agricultural production (crop yield and cropping systems), farmer income and agricultural trade (imports and exports) in China. Second, we will review adaptive responses to climate change that could potentially be made by the government and by farmers. Third, we will review some potential mitigation measures and policies that could be promoted in the agricultural sector.