Can China go green? – John Gittings

From the Guardian’s original China hand:

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said last week during his visit to Europe that his government seeks to build “an environmentally friendly society” – and he seems to mean it. But can it be delivered? By 2020, half of China’s population will be living in urban areas, and domestic water and sewage needs will be double or more those of 2000. Urban pollution is already beyond tolerable limits in most Chinese cities and towns.

No wonder then that the plan to build a model “eco-city” near Shanghai is being looked at with such interest: London’s mayor Ken Livingstone has claimed that “global warming was created in the West, but it is increasingly to the East to which we look for a solution.” And the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) has just held a China fortnight with a special exhibition on “going green in China”.

Dongtan is to be built on Chongming island in the Yangtze river delta, over an area three-quarters of the size of Manhattan island – 86 square kilometres…It will be largely powered by renewable energy, and will consist of village neighbourhoods linked by public transport: polluting vehicles will not be allowed in the city. It will incorporate local agriculture and generate new clean industry to provide jobs for a target population of 80,000. It will also act as a buffer zone between the rest of the island and the Dongtan wetlands which are a migration route for rare birds including the hooded and red-crowned cranes. [Full Text]

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