Climate change poses growing threats to China's cities. Many cities are already deeply affected by climate impacts such as heavy precipitation, heat waves and severe droughts. Life-threatening floods are alarmingly common, with a record 21 large-scale floods in 2020. Particularly, coastal provinces, contributing more than half of China's GDP in 2019, are in peril from floods, storm surges and sea-level rise. 

Meanwhile, cities are the main battleground for China to meet its carbon neutrality targets. Chinese cities contribute about 85 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions; 60 percent of China's population lives in cities, and that is expected to grow to 80 percent by 2050, an additional 255 million residents. 

Climate smart cities can act as an engine of, rather than a brake on, China's high-quality development. It is an integrated approach to managing cities that address the interlinked challenges of climate risks and emissions reduction.  

WRI collaborates with local governments, think tanks, and research institutes in the fields of urban planning, climate, building, and transportation, to conduct research and provide technical assistance on climate emergency and climate smart urban transitions, in order to maximize the synergies between climate mitigation and adaptation. We have developed strong partnerships and collaboration with Shenzhen, Beijing, Ningbo, and many other Chinese cities. 

WRI helps China build Climate Smart cities through: 

  • Strategic research to illuminate the interlinked challenges of climate risks and emissions reduction and Climate Smart city roadmaps: Searching for synergies of adaptation and mitigation, research under the Climate Smart Cities Program enhances awareness and understanding of climate emergency, city decarbonization strategies and roadmaps, urban resilience, governance, climate-adaptive infrastructure planning, and financing, etc.  

  • On-the-ground pilots to mobilize collective actions and demonstrate pathways: WRI co-designs and co-implements pilot projects that act as champions to demonstrate the feasibility of climate smart urban transitions with governments, peer organizations, and communities. By 2021, WRI has boosted pioneering practices to 3 cities in China and is to scale up to more at home and abroad through our strong partnerships and networks. 
  • Evaluation methodologies and analysis tools to enhance capacity: By leveraging data science, analytics, and visualization, WRI Climate Smart Cities Program harnesses the emergence of open and novel data, develops transparent methodologies, and provides reliable insights for policymakers, business leaders, and residents to make informed decisions about the environment and human well-being. WRI Climate Smart Cities Program generates rigorous analyses and evaluations deciphering urban carbon emission patterns, weighing climate-resilient infrastructure costs and benefits, and assessing climate risks and exposure of urban residents in China.  
  • City dashboard to provide data support and maintain momentum: WRI is developing a web-based dashboard that provides transparent and reliable data and technical support for various stakeholders and enables provinces, cities and companies in China to compete with international peers, track progress and maintain momentum.