Are Chinese Cities Prepared to Manage the Risks of Extreme Weather Events? Evidence from the 2021.07.20 Zhengzhou Flood in Henan Province
38 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2022
On 20 July 2021, an extreme torrential rainstorm battered Zhengzhou in central China’s Henan Province, killing 302 people, including 14 individuals who drowned in a subway tunnel and six who drowned in a road tunnel. As the global climate warms, extreme weather events similar to the Zhengzhou flood will become more frequent, with increasingly catastrophic consequences for society. It is therefore imperative that cities in China and worldwide enhance their climate risk management. Focusing on the record-breaking flood in Zhengzhou, in this paper, we examine Chinese cities’ governance capacity for managing extreme weather events, concentrating on meteorological warnings and government responses. Our case analysis demonstrates the following weaknesses in China’s urban meteorological disaster risk management system: poor risk communications, disconnections between meteorological warnings and government responses, low risk perceptions of extreme weather events, and inadequate contingency plans. Accordingly, China’s current urban meteorological disaster risk management system is insufficient and must be adapted to the fast-changing climate. Chinese cities must thus strengthen existing meteorological disaster risk management system by streamlining risk communications, synchronizing meteorological warnings with government responses, updating risk perceptions of extreme weather events, and enhancing interagency coordinations and collaborations in emergency responses. Moreover, Chinese cities should improve intercity policy learning and experience sharing to effectively manage the risks of extreme weather events.
Keywords: Climate change, extreme weather events, risk management, emergency response, flood control, China
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