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A cleaner tomorrow

04-26-2012 11:05 BJT

The sight of lush, verdant areas might be expected for a European-style villa development, but it's rather less common for such buildings to be part of an advanced demonstration project showing China's determination to shift to a low-carbon economy.

Sitting in the Wujin High-Tech Industrial Zone of Changzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, the villa cluster built on an area of 18,000 square meters has applied a variety of energy-saving solutions to achieve zero carbon emissions. The villas all have smart roof ventilation, thermal isolation walls providing unidirectional airflow and specific technologies to deal with waste discharge.

The local government-backed project, involving roughly 200 million yuan ($31.72 million) of investment, is the key part of a low-carbon demonstration area measuring 27.8 square kilometers within the industrial zone, Xie Lei, a project manager of the management committee of the high-tech industrial zone, told a group of reporters during a press trip to the coastal province organized by the State Council Information Office last week.

The project is not just a showcase for the local government's zero carbon ambition, but is also expected to be economically successful, said Xie.

"The cost price of the villas is estimated to be around 12,000 yuan per square meter, and we reckon the sales prices should be at least 20,000 yuan per square meter," he said, adding that there had already been a number of enquiries about the villas from all over the country.

Change of focus

The nation's desire to push low-carbon industries is reflected in various green building projects as well as industries featuring low-carbon emissions such as new-energy cars and environmentally friendly modern services. Efforts are also continuing to shut down energy inefficient and polluting industrial projects like steel plants, cement factories and coal-mining companies.

One area that is favored by the government as a low-carbon sector is the cultural creative industry, said Piao Yunping at the Administrative Committee of Changzhou Creative Industries Park, which has gathered companies specializing in fields such as cartoons, software and advertising.

The Suzhou Industrial Park, another major industrial zone of Jiangsu Province, is also an area showcasing how the coastal province is pursuing its low-carbon mission.

AU Optronics (Suzhou) Corp in the Suzhou Industrial Park, a subsidiary of the Taiwan-based manufacturer of flat screen displays, is one of the companies that have gained capital support from the local government for working on low-carbon projects.

"It would be hard to say the energy-saving efforts can help boost business revenue for the time being, but the company's response to the low-carbon initiative shows its corporate responsibility, and can improve its image," said Wu Cheng-hua, senior manager of the Suzhou subsidiary.

High ambitions

A pilot carbon emissions trading scheme will also be launched in Jiangsu in the near future, and several cities in the province including Wuxi, Suzhou and Changzhou are likely to be involved, Wang Hanchun, deputy director of the Development and Reform Commission of Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times, without revealing further details.

A pilot emissions trading plan began last year across seven major municipalities and provinces, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing, prior to a nationwide expansion.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the nation's top economic planner, has pushed forward a low-carbon policy nationwide starting from some pilot cities and provinces including Jiangsu Province since 2010.

Currently, there are reportedly more than 100 cities across the country pursuing low-carbon initiatives, as part of the nation's ambitious carbon emissions goal.

"We will show the world with our actions that China will never seek economic growth at the expense of its ecological environment and public health," Premier Wen Jiabao said in a government report delivered during the annual two sessions in March.

China has pledged to cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent by 2020, compared to 2005 levels.

From 2006 to 2010, the country's energy use per unit of GDP fell 19.1 percent, and energy saving efforts helped cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 billion tons, according to the NDRC.

Serious challenges

While few would doubt the nation's determination to support low-carbon projects, there are concerns over the implementation of such schemes nationwide.

There is still no scientific, comprehensive assessment system for evaluating the country's low-carbon urban construction, Hu Min, program director of the Low Carbon Development Paths of the China Sustainable Energy Program of the US Energy Foundation, said at the end of last year while releasing an annual report on China's Low-carbon Economic Development (2012).

Some cities are just blindly following the current trend, having not figured out the most appropriate solutions that match local economic development, said another report on the nation's green endeavors from CCID Consulting Co, a Beijing-based consulting agency, which was also released late last year.

Most of the country's developed cities have a relatively high carbon output, but some local governments have been putting too much energy into the development of emerging industries, while overlooking efforts to cut the emissions of traditional industries, commented the report by CCID Consulting.

There are also worries that the nation's shift to a low-carbon economy will face pressure from an imbalanced global trading pattern that has placed such extensive carbon emissions within China, currently the world's manufacturing base.

"The Chinese government's effort to facilitate a low-carbon economy is really impressive according to what I've seen, but I reckon the nation's role as the world's factory that has attracted so many multinational corporations is likely to present a challenge for its ambitious carbon emission reduction vision," Kang Chan-su, a Seoul-based environmental issues writer with JoongAng Ilbo newspaper who also attended the trip, told the Global Times.

Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Global Times

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