Climate Change Overview

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for China's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of China's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

The People’s Republic of China, an upper-middle income country, is the world’s second largest economy and the largest country by population, with over 1.4 billion people. The country is highly diverse, both in geography and ethnography. The country’s geography can be generally divided into four regions. The Southern region, consisting of hilly terrain and the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. The Northern region, consisting of low productivity plains and deserts, including Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The Western Region, consisting of high-altitude plains and mountains in Tibet Autonomous Region, and the Eastern region, which can be sub-divided into the Central Plain, North Plain, and the Northeast Plain, consisting of alluvial plains of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, and a densely populated coastline. As of 2018 China contained six cities with populations over 10 million. As of 2019, the economy of China was led by the service sector (53.9%) and industry (39.0%). However, the relative contribution of sectors to GDP is somewhat mismatched against the labor force, with agriculture employing approximately 27.7% of the working population (over 200 million smallholder farmers), industry 28.8% and services 43.5%. China has made great progress in its efforts of comprehensive poverty alleviation by 2020. As of 2019, 0.6% of the population were reported to be below the national poverty line, representing a dramatic reduction in poverty rates over the past three decades. Rapid economic growth is believed to have coincided with growth in income and wealth inequality; in 2016 the World Bank Group estimated China’s GINI Index (a representation of wealth distribution and inequality) at 38.5. Even in proportion to its large size and economy, China’s vulnerability to climatic hazards is high. Annual losses due to natural hazards average $76 billion and around one third of China’s agricultural land is affected by natural hazards such as storms, droughts, floods, land subsidence, and landslides. In 2020, China acknowledged its aim to peak CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. While vulnerability, as indicated by poverty rates, has reduced in China, levels of risk have remained high due to equally sharp rises in exposure as rapid development has taken place in urban areas without sufficient protection to natural hazards. The urban population in China was 60.3% (2019) as people migrate from rural areas due to economic reasons and impacts from climate change.