There are perhaps 40 different eco-city projects across China at the moment. If you had to design your own city, what would its infrastructure look like? Are cities, per se, even the right form of settlement for eco-planners to design? Here, The Green Leap Forward takes a look at several ideas in eco-community design, inspired by visits to several proposed eco-city sites in China last year, several presentations at a recent conference at the National University of Singapore, and the writings of Brian Milani.
Unified Infrastructure: Using Systems Thinking to Build Communities
If we think about the essential functions of a city, we would probably come up with a list including housing, food, clean water and air, electricity, mobility and access, education, jobs, recreation, and perhaps a few others. The problem is that these seemingly disparate Read the full story
As unlikely as it sounds, if there is one thing that holds the key to China’s sustainable future, that one thing is soils. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to emphasize that soils lies at the heart of the food-water-energy trilemma, which this blog has been harping on as of late (see previous post).
Soil is really where all life begins. Most obviously, our food sources depend on it. Soils are also a vital links global nutrient and water cycles. Less well known is the immense potential of soils to act as vast carbon sinks, with the ability to “naturally turn over about 10 times more greenhouse gas on a global scale than the burning of fossil fuels.”
Understanding the significance of this last fact relies on the appreciation that displacing all fossil fuel power plants with solar and wind farms, while necessary in curbing the flow of Read the full story
China has set itself a target to reduce water consumption per unit GDP by 60% by the year 2020, according to Chen Lei, the Minister of Water Resourced and Management. This pronouncement comes in the wake of extreme drought conditions currently afflicting central and northern China, and statistics released over the weekend that shows China experiences an annual deficit of 40 billion cubic meters of water, with almost two thirds of all cities experiencing varying degrees of water shortage and 200 million rural dwellers facing drinking water shortages. Such ambitions are lofty but not the first time water efficiency goals has been made official policy; in 2007, it set the target of reducing “water intensity” by 20% for the five year period ending 2010. Read the full story
Today’s Green Hops, focusing on energy supply, is a continuation of yesterday’s.
Two important macro-policy documents are in the works. CELB reports that the comprehensive Energy Law may be passed in 2010 (though this Chinese clipping suggests it may be as early as this year), and that the 12th Five-Year Plan for Energy (2011-2015) is in draft mode. Nuclear, wind and hydro seem to bet the alternative energy sources of choice. This alternative energy review by China Daily, in its “Mixed Energy Forecast” seems to similarly suggest the short shrift given to solar. How unimaginative. I’m sure the solar industry would have something to say about that. In fact, it has (see solar section below).
Before turning to the knitty-gritty of the green and brown energy news developments over the past weeks, I would like to highlight a sage piece of advice from CELB, that recognizes that China is still in many ways, but especially economic development, very much a “Rule by Plan” rather than “Rule of Law” society: Read the full story
Its been a busy few weeks since our last Green Hops, so GLF is gonna pack in the updates over two posts consecutive posts.
The “worst drought in half a century” affecting eight northern and central provinces dominated the past week’s news. A 90 percent drop in average rainfall since last November will affect 11 million hectares of wheat crops and create a drinking water shortage for 4.4 million people and 2.2. million livestock. RMB 187 billion of emergency funds have been earmarked. As stop-gap measures, authorities are diverting water from the Yangtze and Yellow River to drought-ridden areas, as well as shelling the sky with pellets to induce rain, Beijing Olympics-style. The water diversion measure has been able to get half of the wheat lands irrigated, but is rather ironic given that a recent study shows that 82% of China’s whopping 3.57 million square kilometers of degraded lands (equivalent to the size of 10 Germanys!) exists in the Yangtze River and Yellow River valleys. The water scarcity woes of northern China have been well described on this blog by Christine Boyle. The World Bank also chimes in with its own comprehensive list of policy recommendation to address water scarcity. Read the full story
Just a quick but important technical announcement. As you may have noticed, there have been new features and changes to The Green Leap Forward website recently. Among those changes is my installation of Feedburner, which has resulted in the change of the RSS feed URL.
For those of you who subscribe to the RSS feed of this blog, please kindly change your RSS feed URL to http://feeds2.feedburner.com/TheGreenLeapForward or click on the RSS icon.
Other noteworthy changes are the addition of “Key Documents” (major policy documents) and “Subject Primers” (on various energy and environmental sectors) sections on the right panel for your handy reference.
Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you and keep reading! We have a double issue Green Hops to catch up on all the latest green and brown news coming right up!
The Green Leap Forward takes a closer look at the Top-1000 program, one of the pillar policies behind China’s drive to achieve a 20% reduction in energy intensity over the 2006-10 period.
Energy Efficiency remains the King of clean energy strategies. It continues to remain the top energy policy priority with the Chinese government. Consider this post at China Green Buildings that speaks to the immense scale of opportunity that lay before property developers. It was recently reported that energy intensity decreased by 4.2% in 2008, an improvement over 3.7% in 2007 and marking the first time it has attained its annualized 4% decrease per year goal for the period of 2006 through 2010. Charlie highlights a policy thrust, guided by the goal of reducing energy intensity, of consolidating heavy industry in favor of service sectors. This approach is not precluding it from cleaning up and optimizing energy efficiency in its existing heavy industries.
The Top 1000 Energy-Consuming Enterprises Program, which set energy-saving targets for China’s 1000 highest energy-consuming enterprises, which together are responsible for a staggering one third of China’s energy consumption, is a key effort. According to the authoritative report on the program authored by Lawrence Berkeley Labs (LBL), the chief foreign advisers to the program, these enterprises are large-scale enterprises that fall within nine industrial categories: Read the full story
At Beijing Energy & Environment Roundtable (BEER) last month on Jan 21, Yusha Hu built upon Christine Boyle’s presentation on Northern China’s water crisis and agricultural water use with a discussion on urban water management issues.
Yusha is a 2008-2009 Fulbright Fellow studying water resource management and policy at Tsinghua University, with the Division of Environmental Policy and Management of the Environmental Science Department. Her research interests lie in the use of water policy and water resource management as a tool to better understand the process between federal environmental policy creation and local policy implementation in China. Yusha holds a BA in Biology and Environmental studies from Swarthmore College.
Here are her slides and synopsis of her presentation: Read the full story