Country Background Information – China


If possible, download these two documents to your phone, so that you can refer to them later:

Key country facts


  • great wall

    The Great Wall is one of the most popular historial attractions in China. Built from 3rd century BC to the 17th century AD as a military defence, the Wall extends to 20,000 km. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

  • shanghai

    On the central coast of China is its biggest city and financial centre; Shanghai. While the city booms economically, its coastal location makes it vulnerable to extreme weather such as flooding. This threatens infrastructure, people, businesses and other economic activities.

  • panda

    Pandas are native to China. Despite being a popular conservation icon, giant pandas remain vulnerable to climate change and habitat destruction.

  • people

    China has the largest population of any country in the world. With over 1 400 million people, about 20% of the world’s population live in China. However, low birth rates due to government policy and personal choice mean their population is ageing rapidly.

  • factory

    Around 30% of China’s population are employed in industry including mining, iron, steel, aluminum, machinery, and textiles. China is the largest exporter of goods in the world. This also makes it the biggest ‘carbon exporter’: it emits a significant amount of greenhouse gas through making goods for other countries.

    Source: Flickr / Chris

  • beijing pollution

    Urban pollution, including haze and smog, is one of the biggest problems in major Chinese cities. This is caused by smoke from the many vehicles, steel factories, and coal-fired power plants. According to recent research, greenhouse gases potentially contribute to the increasing severity and frequency of haze, exacerbating health risks in cities.

    Source: Flickr / Thomas Galvez

  • power plant

    As part of its efforts to reduce air pollution from coal-fired power plants and to shift to non-fossil fuel energy source, China is increasing its investments in nuclear energy. It currently has 45 nuclear power reactors and is building 12 more.

    Source: Flickr / Shubert Ciencia

  • cement factory

    China’s manufacturing sector contributes about 40% to its GDP. The cement industry in particular, is one of its largest, along with steel and chemical fertilizers. These however are also carbon-intensive industries and are the largest sources of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter with emissions increasing through 2018 and the first half of 2019.

    Source: Flickr / Jonathan Kos-Read

  • gorges dam

    The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam built along the Yang Tze River. 660 km long with a 22,500 MW capacity, it is the largest power station in the world. Because of social and environmental issues surrounding its construction, it is also considered by campaigners as the most controversial power station.

    Source: Flickr / Harvey Barrison

  • rice

    425 million are employed in agriculture, producing food for 20% of the world’s population. Crops include rice, wheat, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton and soybeans. About 74% of their total nitrous oxide emissions (a greenhouse gas) come from fertilizer applications.

Further Materials (higher level learners) – China

  • Climate Transparency country profile
  • China eyes an opportunity to take ownership of the climate change fight from the Guardian.
  • China’s emission history and projections from Climate Action Tracker.
  • China’s self-assessment of its vulnerability to climate change, submitted to the UNFCC in 2018
  • UNEP report on the green economy
  • YouTube clip from the Chinese delegation to COP21
  • Climate change projections for China
  • RGS resources on climate change in China
  • General Information

  • Background Information from the UN
  • A good overview from the World Bank.
  • CCAFS big facts
  • En-Roads 2100 climate simulator
  • A history of climate change negotiations and another one.
  • A guide to COP21 in Paris from the Guardian.