In its journey towards the green economy, Beijing is investing a lot in green tech but the goal is not only the improvement of the country’s environmental conditions. International credibility and economic development are at stake
Every minute, China takes important decisions about its shift from a polluted country to a sustainable green economy. As a result, from an open-air factory, the Dragon is now leading its own “Green Long March”, with multiple environmental benefits on a global scale.
For China, the transition towards a greener development model represents a monumental challenge, due to the vastness of the territory and the need for financial resources. But the Middle Kingdom is more motivated than ever.
The People’s Republic has identified the green economy and sustainable development as the only possible future for the country to become the world’s leader it aims to be.
“China is no longer seeking economic growth at all costs,” said Xi Jinping as early as 2013. And this mantra has become one of the cornerstones of not only Beijing’s agenda but also of Chinese companies, which invest more and more in green technology. Indeed, Green Tech is now seen as the application of those advanced technologies aimed at developing a sustainable economy while containing the negative impacts of human involvement.
Therefore, against all odds, it is now China the country that is greening up the planet. The Dragon already invested over $126.6 billion in renewable energy as part of its Belt and Road Initiative positioning itself as a leader in the climate space. However, the country’s total investments to be directed towards the sectors of environmental protection, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable transport are estimated at $600 billion each year.
© Wikimedia Commons. Windfarm in Shanxi. If at the end of the 1950s Mao Zedong gave birth to the Great Leap, in recent years Xi Jinping’s China has been fielding the “Green Long March”.
Nevertheless, the fact that Beijing is investing so much into the green economy and in promoting a sustainable way of life should not come as a surprise. The Middle Kingdom paid, in fact, the highest price for its fast economic expansion.
Since Deng Xiaoping‘s opening and reforms, the Dragon has undergone extraordinary economic growth surpassing the United States in retail sales and becoming the second world’s largest economy in less than 40 years.
But this rapid growth cannot happen without consequences. Therefore, the repercussions for China have been numerous and heavy. High greenhouse gas emissions, water contaminated by toxic wastes, and a large number of cities dangerously poisoned by air pollution are what gave the PRC the not so gratifying supremacy as the most polluting country in the world
Beijing has thus come to the point where the quest for a sustainable green future was not an option. The environmental problems had to be addressed to build the long-awaited successful modern superpower the Dragon is working to become.
Due to the massive amount of investments allocated in the green economy sector, the country became the leader for renewable energy investments in 2017, accounting for almost 50% of the global total.
Therefore, the first move of the country’s journey towards the green economy has been switching from coal to natural gas. Beijing has just overtaken Japan as the world’s top importer of it while upgrading its infrastructure and pipeline networks to power its energy needs, both industrial and household.
Moreover, aiming at building a sustainable environment, in January 2018, China announced it would no longer import plastic waste from the US and EU. This was notable since China has been the world’s dumping ground receiving 25% of global plastic and paper scrap for over 25 years.
Today, five of the world’s six largest solar-module manufacturers are Chinese as well as five of the largest wind turbine manufacturers, intending to reach 15% of the country’s energy needs covered. But it is China’s technology giants that play a vital role in sustainable development, giving birth to a brand-new trend, that of a “Green Entrepreneurship”.
Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba are among the world’s top internet companies that are accelerating the pace of change helping to improve the Green Tech sector and the waste recycling industry.
© Weibo. Shenzhen replaced its whole bus fleet with electric vehicles and it now aims to switch from diesel to an entirely electric transport system.
Indeed, with over 800 million netizens, internet together with all the related wireless technologies are the key drivers for further development of many sectors the Made in China 2025 plans to implement. Therefore, it is not only significant for the seek of the hi-tech supremacy but it is crucial for sustainable development as well.
To reach the goal of building zero-waste cities, the State Council even issued a plan, which promoted the “Internet Plus recycling model” for the appliance of advanced technologies to garbage sorting.
As a result, many major companies now started to feel the need to embrace the mission of contributing to sustainable growth within the “Internet Plus” model. Therefore, several Chinese startups are now working to creating more value from recyclables.
By enhancing Green Tech, innovative technologies can solve unpredictable situations, developing advanced problem-solving skills, all of which no longer requires human intervention to function at its best.
Moreover, more than 10,000 AI-powered waste bins have been disseminated around 33 Chinese cities gaining millions of users, who are excited to participate in building a sustainable China.
The People’s Republic is implementing a real sustainable technological boom more than other international superpowers. And this trend started way before the UN Climate Change Conference held in Paris in 2015. Already in 2007, the former President Hu Jintao promoted the Ecological Civilization for the first time. It was the idea of building a developed ecological society, which became the country’s main goal.
Since then, China’s new concept of Ecological Civilization aimed to achieve the country’s economic and environmental interests by achieving harmony between people and nature. Xi Jinping himself often addresses this issue in his speeches promoting a “green, low-carbon and circular development” while punishing the activities that damage the environment.
© Xinhua. Beijing. Opened last June, the world’s first “bicycles only highway” in Beijing aims to decongest its roads from cars, making the capital a greener city by 2020.
Today, studies reveal that 80% of all prefectural-level cities have at least one eco-city project in the works. Moreover, due to China’s policies, strategies, and financial incentives addressed to these programs, the interest in promoting and carrying out green projects is growing.
Although the list of cities is longer, Hangzhou, Zhuhai, Xiamen, but above all Shenzhen, represent the country’s most sustainable cities, showing how China is literally changing its global reputation starting from changing its urban development.
More than 30 Chinese cities are now organizing to make important innovations in this sector. In particular, in addition to the cities mentioned before, cities such as Guangzhou, Dongguan, Foshan, Nanjing, as well as the Shaanxi and Shandong regions, aim for a total conversion to electricity by 2020.
The metropolis of Shenzhen recently became the symbol of the Chinese transition towards electric, employing 99% of the world’s electric buses.
But it is Shenzhen the most significant zone as it will integrate advanced technologies in sewage treatment, waste management, and ecological healing while using AI at the service of resource management and against pollution. Besides, the Chinese metropolis is the first city in the world where old buses and taxis have been fully replaced with electric vehicles.
More than any other country on the planet, the Dragon is headed straight for the realization of a green economy. It is making amends for its past, learning from the previous mistakes and thus creating a brand-new narrative for its people.
Not only the PRC is not seeking economic growth at all costs but it is also setting a model of green economy for other countries to follow. The message is clear: only by following the Chinese example we can aim to address the environmental crisis together.
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