China's business center of Shanghai is one of seven cities staging the 24-hour concerts on Saturday aimed at raising awareness of climate change.
The location is poignant since the city is the linchpin of the booming Chinese economy - blamed for spewing ever-growing levels of green house gasses into the atmosphere.
"Global warming is a very complex issue," Khalid Malik, the United Nations' resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in China, said in a news release.
"With its rapid economic growth and soaring carbon emissions, China is regarded as a crucial target for this message," Malik said.
China has been drawing growing international attention for its chronic environmental problems, from poisoned rivers and lakes to choking air and spreading deserts.
The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency last month said China had overtaken the U.S. in CO2 emissions by about 7.5 percent in 2006, a finding supported by the U.N. and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The study said China, which relies on coal for two-thirds of its energy needs and makes 44 percent of the world's cement, produced 6.23 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2006. In comparison, the U.S., which gets half its electricity from coal, produced 5.8 billion metric tons of CO2.
Chinese officials have warned of impending disasters from environmental degradation, but have rejected international pressure to adopt mandatory caps on greenhouse gas production.
The Live Earth concert series - backed by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and founded by Kevin Wall, an Emmy-winning concert producer who produced Live 8 - is aimed at engaging a worldwide audience of 2 billion with more than 150 headliners performing in 8 cities: Hamburg, Istanbul, Johannesburg, London, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo.
A band of scientists will also perform in Antarctica, stretching Live Earth across seven continents.
Performers in Shanghai will include popular Chinese singers Eason Chan, Huang Xiaoming, Anthony Wong and Joey Yung, along with British singer Sarah Brightman.