Having been to China’s major cities in recent years, visitors will undoubtedly notice the problem of pollution yet longtime residents will proudly direct you to immense improvements in air quality over the last few decades.
The most recent 12th FYP (5 Year Plan), covering the time frame 2011 – 2015 and shared with the world after this years’ convention in March, is a blue print of priorities and goals set out by the central government. While the overall goal is ‘Economic Rebalancing’ observers noticed increasing priorities given to environmental and energy goals.
With the world’s largest population (4.5 times that of the US), China has maintained average annual growth rates of more than 10 per cent over many years, which many consider unsustainable in the future. Lifting a large portion of its population out of poverty also creates the largest move ever recorded in history from rural to urban China, increasing the urbanization rate to over 50%. As a result of this massive population move, energy demand is growing by annually 12%.
The goals of the government are clear:
· Energy Conservation: Increase energy efficiency to 16% (the 11th FYP accomplished a 20% increase), improve development of energy-efficient technology, increase water conservation to 30%.
· Environmental Quality: 8% reduction in carbon emission is the current goal for 2015, during the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference China introduced its self-imposed goal of 45% reduction by 2020 (over 2005); forest coverage is to grow to almost 22%. Carbon Taxes and Trading are widely discussed and expected to be implemented by 2013.
· New Energy: Currently China produces almost 9% of its energy through non-fossil resources including wind, water, and nuclear. Within the next five years this percentage is to increase to 15%.
Some of these goals seem rather ambitious, yet with a centralized government realizing the dangers of rapid economic growth, billions of dollars in available investments, and an excellent past record, China may well be on the way to master this balancing act. Investments in environmentally friendly energy production are higher here than in any other country ($34b in 2009, twice as much as the US).
While China is undoubtedly the world’s largest carbon emitter, the per-household ratio shows a different picture and how far ahead the US is compared to China: The two ‘cleanest’ US cities, San Diego and San Francisco, show emissions of 26 tons of CO2 per household, far ahead of the 1.8 tons for a Shanghai household or 4 tons for a Beijing household. Per capita, the US remains by far the largest polluter in the world.
And China has achieved another accomplishment: It’s the world's largest manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels. In 2009 China put up one third of the world’s wind turbines, not just domestically but internationally as well. Environmentally friendly technology is a very attractive export product. Unfortunately, 30 percent of the wind turbines within China are currently not connected to the aging power grid, something that certainly will change very soon.
Many believe by the end of this decade China will dominate the production of the whole range of power equipment. As a result, clean power technologies will get cheaper for itself and everyone else, and China will become the largest producer and consumer of alternative energy.
CST China Special Tours organizes special group tours to China. Interested in visiting China 'with a special focus', - educational, professional, or special interest? Please contact CST today and soon you will receive your personalized proposal. Please visit www.chinaspecialtours.com for more information.
TRAVEL NEWS FROM CHINA
Hong Kong Airport most efficient in Asia - The Air Transport Research Society has again elected Hong Kong Airport as the most efficient in Asia, considering traffic figures, delays, management and passenger figures. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport still retains its position as the most efficient aviation hub globally.
Great Wall Helicopter Ride - 15 minute charter flights are now offered from Badaling Airport at a cost of RMB 1,500 (approx. $200). The modern helicopters can accommodate up to 4 passengers. Plans include longer flights for up to 60 minutes.
Delta Air Lines introduces new China flight - Earlier this month, Delta Air Lines introduced its new nonstop flight between Detroit and Beijing in addition to the already scheduled flights from Detroit to Shanghai and Hong Kong. Flights currently operate five times per week with a Boeing 777.