Is PRC a green leader? No joke: China is building and developing eco-cities. Here’s how China is going green with top 4 most sustainable PRC metropolis
What started out as a few experimental developments to test new green urban design and technological systems has turned into an all out movement. Eco-cities are now being built across China, from Inner Mongolia to the jungly hinterlands of the south, from the eastern seaboard to the fringes of Central Asia.
According to data, 80% of all prefectural-level cities are now said to have at least one eco-city project in the works. China has initiated policies, strategies and financial incentive schemes at national level to address these issues. It is also seen that there is a growing interest in recent years at local government level in promoting green buildings.
Today Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Zhuhai and Xiamen are leading the list of PRC most sustainable cities. But this list is longer and shows as China is improving due to change a global reputation for rendering itself an ecological wasteland. This is a very real development that is taking place in a China that is attempting to rapidly transition and stabilize on many fronts.
Shenzhen: Green Leader in China
Despite China being something of a whipping boy for the West over its poor pollution record, many of its cities are putting significant efforts into cleaning up and Shenzhen is the forerunner of this tendency. Shenzhen – the fishing village turned megalopolis of China’s South – is home to tech manufacturing, automation, and the robots that will fill tomorrow’s factories. Today this city is one of the most important Chinese Silicon Valleys.
With a multi-billion dollar national budget, the city targeted an ambitious 50% reduction in heavy air pollution days within five years (2020). Thanks to this two-pronged approach, air pollution levels in Shenzhen are decreasing rapidly. But how Shenzhen became China’s most sustainable city? First the metropolis made global headlines for being the first major city in the world to roll out an all-electric public bus fleet – all 16,000 of them. Currently, about 80 percent of all Shenzhen’s taxis are electric and the city plans to electrify all its taxis by 2020.
Hangzhou Leads the way for Sustainable Tourism in China
When Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in the 13th century, he called it “the finest and most splendid city in the world”. Capital of the fallen Southern Song emperors, today Hangzhou is home to nine million people and is leading Chinese shift energy policies. the iconic Yangtze Delta river city won its “green challenge” thanks to former mayor Qiu Baoxing – called China’s sustainable city guru – that let Hangzhou is successfully greening its air, water and landscapes.
Trees, pedestrian parks and lantern-lit paths line stretches of the Grand Canal, which was mostly a stinking, toxic wasteland 20 years ago. And to cut air pollution, the city is limiting car ownership and has a fast-growing metro network. Some historic streets are protected, as are several lakes just outside town. Since 2010, Hangzhou has been one of the National Development and Reform Commission’s (NDRC) eight low-carbon pilot cities across China.
This programme covers greenhouse gas accounting, low-carbon development planning, industrial and economic policies, government training and international cooperation and knowledge sharing. The plan also encourages low-carbon lifestyles and is underpinned by a strong focus on rapidly increasing the proportion of renewables for the city’s energy mix. Lessons learnt here are now being scaled up and applied across the country.
Zhuhai Builds Reputation as a Green Place on the Pearl River Delta
Situated at the point where the Pearl River meets the South China Sea, Zhuhai has a reputation in China as one of the greenest, prettiest, and most livable cities in the country. Right next to Macau and close to – but not part of – the huge industrial zone clustered around Shenzhen and Hong Kong on the opposite shore of the Pearl River, Zhuhai intends to build on its lead and become China’s most ecologically advanced city within the next ten years. When a visitor walks out of the ferry terminal of Zhuhai, the first thing he sees is a long stretch of shore lined with trees.
Walk along the shore, of the Pearl River, and you come to a beach 1.5 kilometres long and 90 metres wide, full of tourists and tents. That’s why two years ago Zhuhai has officially been voted the most livable Chinese city. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Zhuhai bested Hong Kong in the overall ranking. But now Guangdong based city has an ambitious plan: It wants to have the cleanest, greenest traffic system in all of China, and within ten years aims to become one of the world’s top cities in terms of green transportation.
The key that could help Zhuhai reach its ambitious goal of becoming a world leader in sustainable development is its green traffic system. Together with Siemens and other partners, the city has developed a roadmap where public transport, cycling and walking cover 80 percent of mobility requirements. This would make Zhuhai a model city in terms of green mobility in China and beyond.
Xiamen: the True Eco-Green Pearl of Fujian
Fujian Province, with its two emerging Tier 2 cities, Fuzhou and Xiamen, is surely one of the most promising growing local economies of the country. Located in China’s Southeast, the Province is a top choice tourist destination for Chinese citizens. It is referred to as “八山一水一分田” meaning “eight parts mountain, one part water, and one part fields” but it recently became much more than that.
And Xiamen is the true pearl of this coastal province. Positioned exactly in front of Taiwan and hosting one of the most prestigious universities in all of China, Xiamen has been labeled one of the best Chinese cities for quality of life. Much of the economic success of this second-tier city comes from its nomination as one of the first four China’s Special Economic Zones that engaged in trade with the outside world, an advantage that still pays off after thirty years. The city not only hosts the annual China International Fair for Investment and Trade but it is also the headquarter for the country’s best-known sports brands such as Anta, 360°, and Peak Sport.
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