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China cleaning up?

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<crosses fingers> Please Please Please Please </crosses fingers>

China plans environmental revolution
ELAINE KURTENBACH

Associated Press

Shanghai, China — China announced a plan Wednesday to combat widespread pollution and leave a better environment for future generations, citing the need to stave off possible social instability.

The plan, approved by the state council focuses on pollution controls and calls for the country to clean up heavily polluted regions and reverse degradation of water, air and land by 2010.

“The move is aimed at protecting the long-term interests of the Chinese nation and leaving a good living and development space for our offspring,†according to an announcement published in state media.

Among the most urgent problems cited by the official Xinhua News Agency were acid rain, pollution of the soil, organic pollutants, potential risks from nuclear facilities and a decline in biodiversity.

Most major rivers are polluted, and acid rain has damaged more than one-third of China's land area, as well as neighbouring countries, the Xinhua report noted.

The government has previously responded to environmental crises largely on a piecemeal basis. The new plan appears to be a broader strategy in keeping with the government's newly stated emphasis on seeking sustainable development after years of breakneck growth.

“The government does seem to be paying more attention to broad environmental protection issues,†said Zhao Qingxiang, a professor in the Environment Department of Shanghai's East China University of Science & Technology.

“But what I'm concerned about is how this plan will affect the entire ecological system, which has a long way to go. It's not just a matter of closing down a few factories.â€

Under the plan, regional governments will be asked to set environmental targets and conduct regular evaluations. It also calls for environmental quality to be considered in assessing the performance of local officials – until recently judged mainly according to their success in promoting economic development.

“Leading officials and other relevant government officials will be punished for making wrong decisions that cause serious environmental accidents and for gravely obstructing environmental law enforcement,†it said.

Government ministries have been ordered to adapt fiscal, tax, pricing, trade and technology policies to the new strategy.

The state council said the plan was in part prompted by a toxic chemical spill in northeastern China's Songhua River in November that “stunned the nation and sounded an alarm about the country's worsening environment.â€

The environmental protection minister was dismissed after the disaster, which affected water supplies for millions of people in China and neighbouring Russia.

Pollution, often linked to official corruption and incompetence, has sparked a series of sometimes violent confrontations between authorities and rural residents.

In one of the more widely publicized cases, dozens were injured in April riots when police tried to move protesters from an industrial complex in Wangkantou, a village in the east's Zhejiang province. The residents were enraged by chemical plant pollution they said had destroyed their crops.

“The issue of pollution has become a 'blasting fuse' for social instability,†Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, said in comments posted on the agency's Web site.

Evidence of the negative effects of years of rapid industrialization, uncontrolled construction and widespread use of farm chemicals can be seen everywhere in China, from the biggest cities to the countryside.

Some 16 of the world's 20 smoggiest cities are in China, and the World Bank estimates that more than 400,000 deaths a year are linked to air pollution. Canals surrounding Shanghai stink and fester, as do many in the countryside. Piles of construction material and other waste cover huge stretches of rural land.

Local authorities have tended not to enforce pollution controls, land-use restrictions and other limits that might hurt land sales and tax revenues or discourage investors. Heavily polluting factories often either bribe officials to look the other way or pay cursory fines.
"Government ministries have been ordered to adapt fiscal, tax, pricing, trade and technology policies to the new strategy."

To my understanding this would be kinda like a 'Green Tax', and having any environmental costs reflected in the actual cost of a product. This may be a lot easier to do in a controlled economy.

Link
 

Subsonic Chronic

TRIBE Member
Harpers, source of so much random and useful information, had a cool little article a couple of months ago about some of the new cities that are being planned in China.

You would not believe how environmentally sound these designs are. Maximum use of sunlight for energy and building lighting, minimal water waste (a two-tied system that reuses sink water for flushing the toilet and stuff), plus a whole bunch of other changes that would be pretty much impossible in Canada or the U.S. but can be done at the drop of a hat in China where there are no regulations and red tape to cut through.

The things you can do in a totalitarian regime! ;)
 

dicksherwood

TRIBE Member
we in North America say what's the point of cleaning up if China and India are going to be indifferent to environmental concerns...now what's our excuse going to be?
 
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Gunark

TRIBE Member
Big words, but China is now fundamentally a capitalist nation. Economic interests trump all else (even human rights, and in this sense China is now becoming Milton Friedman's wet dream). Nothing will come of this... not until the money flowing into China starts demanding it.
 

dig this

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Gunark
Big words, but China is now fundamentally a capitalist nation. Economic interests trump all else (even human rights, and in this sense China is now becoming Milton Friedman's wet dream). Nothing will come of this... not until the money flowing into China starts demanding it.

Maybe they realize that there is no long term guarentee of financial stability without environmental sustainability? These envirnmental disasters are costing the country millions.. the loss of life (400 000/year) can also be equated in a financial loss. Plus all the international pressure, which probably isn't that much of a factor, afterall, we are talking about China... But when you have 16 of the world's 20 most smogiest cities, anyone with any common sense and long-term forecasting will tell you that continuing these trends will only come around to haunt you. I really hope they're serious about this, cause I think that if China can do it, it gives a hell of a lot of hope for the rest of us.
 

dicksherwood

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Gunark
Big words, but China is now fundamentally a capitalist nation. Economic interests trump all else (even human rights, and in this sense China is now becoming Milton Friedman's wet dream).
Not even. As this quote says, "citing the need to stave off possible social instability." Social stability and the continuation of the communist party is what's most important. China will change economic systems in a flash if it means keeping the people under control and the Party in control.

The people of China don't have a history or expectation of capitalism so there won't be riots if the Party says they're moving to Marxism or some other as yet untested economic system. As long as the proletariat can be fed they'll do whatever the Party says. Stuff like being unable to grow their crops or fish in the rivers or birth defects is what will set the Chinese people off, the Party doesn't want another revolution.

This is a very smart move on their part, I'd give it a good chance of succeeding.
 

Gunark

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by dicksherwood
Not even. As this quote says, "citing the need to stave off possible social instability." Social stability and the continuation of the communist party is what's most important. China will change economic systems in a flash if it means keeping the people under control and the Party in control.

The people of China don't have a history or expectation of capitalism so there won't be riots if the Party says they're moving to Marxism or some other as yet untested economic system. As long as the proletariat can be fed they'll do whatever the Party says. Stuff like being unable to grow their crops or fish in the rivers or birth defects is what will set the Chinese people off, the Party doesn't want another revolution.

This is a very smart move on their part, I'd give it a good chance of succeeding.
I guess what I'm saying is that the Chinese government no longer has as much control as it thinks it does. The economy has become a runaway train, and it'll trample over anything that tries to get in its path.

I guess I'm being a pessimist here. Of course I'm hoping something will come of this. But managed central control is so feeble compared to economic drive.

China owes much (if not all) of its success to the fact that it can do all those dirty things that the western world can do. Abusive labour conditions, lack of environmental controls, and trampling of personal right and freedoms. This is it's only real economic advantage, and without it China really doesn't have much. Perhaps that stage of development is over, and perhaps the country IS emerging as an economic power in it's own right, but I'm not quite convinced of this yet.

I think that if we do come out of this, it will be thanks to technological solutions, largely coming out of well developed places like northern europe, and not through manual enforcement of environmental controls using existing technologies.
 
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China to build first eco-city

Jean-Pierre Langellier and Brice Pedroletti
Guardian Weekly


Imagine it is 2010. The place is Dongtan, the world's first purpose-built eco-city. It stands in the middle of the marshes at the eastern tip of Chongming, China's third-largest island, at the mouth of the Yangtse river.

None of the buildings is more than eight storeys high. Turf and vegetation cover the roofs, a natural form of insulation that also recycles waste water. The town has six times more space for pedestrians than Copenhagen, one of Europe's airiest capitals. Pollution-free buses, powered by fuel cells, run between neighbourhoods. An intranet service forecasts travel times and connects people who want to share a car. Traditional motorbikes are forbidden, replaced by electric scooters or bicycles. The roads are laid out so that walking or cycling to work is quicker than driving.

Up to 80% of solid waste is recycled. Organic waste is burned in an incinerator, catering for part of the town's electricity requirements. Other burners consume rice husks, which produce a lot of heat and are plentiful in China. On the outskirts giant windmills, driven by the sea breeze, produce electricity too. Each building is fitted with photovoltaic panels and its own, smaller windmill.

Dongtan stands on the shores of a canal, in the middle of a designated nature reserve with outstanding biodiversity, and is one of the main attractions for visitors to the international Expo in Shanghai. The journey to the metropolis, via a huge bridge and tunnel complex, takes only 45 minutes.

Returning to the present day, the Dongtan project is an attempt to solve an increasingly pressing problem. China has so far given priority to the quantity of construction, but now it must focus on quality. This means a radical change in town planning strategy and a switch to sustainable development, even though the country is in the grip of one of the most spectacular migratory movements in the history of mankind. Between now and 2020 China needs to build 400 new towns - nearly 30 a year - to accommodate more than 300 million people from the countryside. Hence the decision to build a model city on Chongming Island.

The contract for the project was awarded to the Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC) seven years ago. It appointed Arup, a British-based engineering consultancy, to design Dongtan. Arup, which has been working in China for the past 20 years, contributed to the construction of amenities for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. To demonstrate the political significance of the Dongtan scheme, the contract was signed in November at 10 Downing Street in the presence of the British prime minister, Tony Blair, and the visiting Chinese president, Hu Jintao. The Chinese authorities have commissioned two other eco-cities.

It is part of a plan to develop thousands of square kilometres of the mouth of the Yangtse, which includes building a deep-sea harbour for Shanghai 30km out in the East China Sea. This is the biggest single development anywhere in the world.

At present about half a million people live in the district of Chongming, travelling to the outskirts of Shanghai on speedboats and ferries. They occupy two small towns and a myriad of little villages, as yet spared by the building frenzy of neighbouring districts. A motorway, which is often deserted, already crosses the island. Dongtan, which will be built nearby, will have a population of 50,000 to 80,000 by 2010, rising to 500,000 by 2040.

"In 20 years," says Ma Chengliang, the manager of SIIC Dongtan, "the Chinese economy has grown so fast that we are already suffering energy shortages. To maintain our current growth rate, we must opt for sustainable development. In Dongtan we want to demonstrate what can be done in terms of renewable energy, clean transport systems and sustainable lifestyles. The model was designed so that it could be extended to the rest of Chongming, serving as a prototype for the whole country."

Standing on the site of the new town, Alejandro Gutierrez, Arup's senior architect, explains: "Dongtan will be compact, inspired by traditional Chinese towns in which water plays an important part. Social factors are essential. It will have a diverse population, affordable housing, at least 30,000 jobs on the spot, schools and a hospital, to ensure it is not dependent on Shanghai."

The most original feature of Dongtan is its eco-friendly design. It will have an ecological footprint (the total area of land required to sustain an individual) of two hectares per person, three times less than Shanghai, London or Paris.

Dongtan is surrounded by miles of wetland, vital for birds migrating between Australia and Siberia. It is determined to preserve the quality of its air, so motor vehicles must be carbon-neutral and the plans provide for the construction of hydrogen filling stations for fuel cells.

To meet the town planners' requirements, Arup has even designed small, lightweight vehicles that consume little energy and travel almost bumper-to-bumper, taking up little room on the roads. Dongtan aims to be energy self-sufficient, meeting all its requirements with renewable sources - solar, wind and biomass.

However, the design team realises that it will have to overcome many obstacles before achieving its ideal. "Even if, with the right design and materials, you manage to build homes that operate at only two-thirds of current energy levels, individual behaviour may completely upset your plans," says Gutierrez. "That is why we need a combination of rules, outreach and price incentives to educate the occupants and halt excessive consumption."

Once the authorities give the green light to Arup's master plan this year, things should happen quickly, with the town scheduled to be built in less than four years.

So, can we look forward to hundreds or even thousands of Dongtans in other parts of the world? Peter Head, Arup's director, is sure it is possible. The materials and design would be different, but the underlying principles and method would be the same. Providing, he adds, that people believe in this sort of project and support it wholeheartedly, as is the case in China.
You just can't do this kinda stuff in a democracy.

The Guardian
 

Adam

TRIBE Member
The plan...calls for the country to clean up heavily polluted regions and reverse degradation of water, air and land by 2010
That's laughable. They won't be able to agree on a typeface for the printed copy of this plan by 2010.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
i find it laughable that peolpe believe any story like this coming out of china.

it is reasonable that they would wish to build a city that is environmentally safe and sustainable, though how many workers will die because of unsafe and unhealthy work conditions never gets mentioned.

china is not fucking around when it expands its economy, people who are not aligned w/ "the party" do not get permits, materials or help. it is a regime that is permiting economic growth on its own specific and tightly gaurded terms.

china lacks the resources and raw materials that we posses, which should make the hype-concerned about sustainable use of resources. but they have not shown to be this way outside of press releases.
 
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