Low carbon cities in ChinaBaoding and Shanghai are participating with WWF in the “Low Carbon City Initiative” pilot to reduce carbon emissions. It is one of many examples of how Chinese cities, now with government aid, are working on sustainable development in a country where the number of cities has tripled in 25 years. In 2010 the Chinese government started its own programme for Low Carbon Cities.
Keywords: low-carbon cities, renewables, urbanization, five-year plan, China
China's rate of urbanization is unprecedented. In 2009 the number of Chinese city-dwellers reached 620 million – a 36% increase from 2000. China's urban population is also getting richer, consuming more energy and resources per capita – as much as 75% of China's total energy use. In response, many Chinese cities (see also Tianjing) are developing strategies to cut carbon dioxide emissions – also because of China's increasingly ambitious national goals for energy intensity and renewable energy. In the 11th five-year plan (2005-2010) China aimed for a 20% improvement in energy intensity – energy consumption per unit of GDP – and a 10% share of renewable energy, goals which were essentially met. Targets for the 12th five-year plan (up to 2015) are an additional 16% greater intensity, 11.4% renewables, and – for the first time – a cap on total energy use. For 2020, the goal, which Chinese cities are adopting, is a 40% improvement in energy intensity over 2010 levels and a 15% share of non-fossil energy.
Urban green policies
In recent years, Chinese cities have designed increasingly advanced climate plans, with goals going beyond the national ones. This is partly a result of collaboration with academic institutions, NGOs and international organizations. Many cities have supported green growth by becoming "hubs" for green entrepreneurship and innovation. Baoding in northern China has become a successful hub for renewable energy (see also Baoding) and Nanchang in the southeast has become a hub for lighting.
Others have created more extensive strategies for sustainable development, for example Kunming and the harbour cities Xiamen and Rizhao (see also Rizhao). Strategies by Chinese cities include energy efficiency in buildings and industry, support for green enterprises, development of public transport and renewable energy (e.g. solar panels, heat pumps and waste-to-energy), and changed habits through information campaigns and standards for energy-efficient consumer goods.
Low carbon city initiative
In partnership with cities, agencies and businesses, the WWF's Low Carbon City Initiative (LCCI) project focuses on green development through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and technologies that reduce carbon emissions. Started in 2007, LCCI promotes technology transfers, and other exchanges, between China and developed countries. It also explores new tools for financing and investment and aims at raising public awareness of issues.
LCCI's first stage includes pilot projects in Baoding and Shanghai, with the goal of other cities joining in later. The pilot project in Shanghai involves eco-buildings, energy efficiency in office buildings, policy development and energy-saving campaigns. In Baoding, it is focused on networking in knowledge management and technology collaboration surrounding sustainable energy, marketing development for the renewable energy industry, and city planning and industrial estate development.
Integrated in five-year plan
One LCCI goal was policy development through activities in Beijing. This contributed to China raising the Low Carbon City concept in 2008. The low-carbon idea became a cornerstone for future environmental operations, and in July 2010, the central government started its own project in the same spirit – eight cities and five provinces were selected to be "low carbon economy pilots". The selected cities of Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Hangzhou, Nanchang, Guiyang and Baoding followed up the decision with presentations of their own climate plans. In 2011, the project was integrated in the 12th five-year plan.
Chinese promotion of low-carbon cities has been praised, since per-capita emissions of carbon dioxide in Chinese cities generally are at least double those of European cities, due mainly to extensive industry. But according to Chinese energy expert Jiang Kejun, interviewed in China Dialogue, many cities are going about it the wrong way. Kejun is one of the first Chinese academics to study the concept of low-carbon cities. He is involved in a project in Shenyang, where he argues they are getting it right, through a more comprehensive strategy. All relevant areas should be included, he argues: energy-efficiency in buildings, green mobility, land use, lifestyles, renewable energy, and industry.
WWF China, http://www.wwfchina.org/english/sub_loca.php?loca=1&sub=96
Ecología y Desarrollo (ECODES), 2010, "Low Carbon City Initiative", in Metamorphosis of the City: Innovative Social Initiatives, http://www.ecodes.org/shangai/Catalogo-ingles/
The Climate Group, 2010, China Clean Revolution Report III: Low Carbon Development in Cities, Summary, December 2010, http://www.theclimategroup.org/_assets/files/China-Clean-Revolution-III.pdf
Eric Martinot et al., 2009, Global Status Report on Local Renewable Energy Policies, Working Draft, 12 June 2009, A Collaborative Report by: REN21 Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP), and ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability, http://www.ren21.net/Portals/97/documents/Publications/REN21_LRE2009_Jun12.pdf
Michael Wines, "China Unveils Economic Plan With Focus on Raising Incomes and Reining in Pollution", New York Times, March 4 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/world/asia/05china.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1
Liu Jianqiang, "From sham to reality", China Dialogue, November 3, 2010, http://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/3916-From-sham-to-reality
Key data are retrieved from the UN World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision, http://esa.un.org/unup/unup/index_panel2.html
Text by: Martin Jacobson