It’s Getting Greener!

It is no secret; in the past years the quality of air, water and soil has gotten worse. Not just in Shanghai, but also in other cities in China. The people are affected by them on a daily life basis.

Is the water safe to drink? Is it a “mask-day” again? Is the soil I grow the vegetables in ok? Can I trust in “organic” labels? What affects might these problems have in the future? These questions are sometimes difficult to answer. But environmental protection became more and more important, and has gotten its place in China’s 13th five year plan.

Some of the green development goals are to reduce emissions (per unit of GDP by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels), and to increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy to 15 percent by 2020, and to ban commercial logging in natural forests. Knowing that the problems are difficult go tackle, China is working hard to fulfill the given targets and to create a better environment. For example, by creating Low-Carbon Zones such as the Shanghai Lingang Carbon Valley carried through a joint-venture between Government and interested private entities. In the case of Shanghai Lingang Carbon Valley, the mandate is clearly defined in three aspects including 1) to meet twice a year focused on Low Carbon World City Development Strategies 2) to launch the Clean Path China Technology and Business Accelerator, and 3) to establish a Low Carbon Institute to drive education and research, supported by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in partnership with other world leading institutions.

CO2 Conference

Pascal Marmier, CEO of swissnex China, speaking in the conference

During the 3rd International City Forum 2016 “Future Low Carbon Cities Conference” on April 13, 2016, swissnex China had the pleasure to share insights on Switzerland’s policies and activities in environmental protection, focusing on CO2-emmissions. About 400 guests had been present, from various countries and different industries and institutions, all dedicated to environmental protection and working in the connected fields of interest.

Switzerland’s is represented through SDC, the Swiss Development Cooperation, a directorate of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, based at the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing. SDC launched the Global Program Climate Change (GPCC) which focuses on the promoting concrete climate adaptation strategies and measures, and underlining data for climate strategies. SDC is active in China to offer support in projects tackling the key challenges such as an increasing urban population, growing congestion, rising energy consumption and increasing air pollution and CO2 emissions.

With the “Sino-Swiss Low Carbon Cities” (SSLCC), part of the GPCC, Switzerland supports China through its cooperation and the promotion of innovative and successful Swiss approaches, exchange of knowledge, and technologies to tackle climate change and its impacts. The ultimate aim is to contribute to the mitigation of climate change by reducing the emissions of Green House Gases in Chinese urban areas and aims to combine positive results made in different pilot projects with Chinese cities.

Through innovative technologies and approaches successfully introduced combined with strengthening of capacities of persons in charge of city management, and evidence-based policy dialogue at various levels shall result in more sustainable urban city planning.

Based on our discussions with the Chinese municipal governments, among the several areas of priorities identified by the New Type Urbanization Plan (NTUP), cities find transformation and upgrading of the smart industrial zones would be a big challenge and are therefore a key interest for cooperation with Switzerland. Switzerland has actually accumulated some 50 years of experiences based on its industrial cluster policies from the federal, cantonal and city levels. We therefore are keen to share the best practices and work with Chinese cities to integrate technical solutions that contribute to a greener path for growth. The SSLCC has been preparing from the end of 2009. It has selected from more than 600 Chinese cities some 10 cities in the short-list. From 2016, five cities from the list have been ready to commit with further cooperation through the signing of the MOUs.

So far the cities of Yantai, Chongqing, Shanghai (Jinshan), Chengdu and Guangzhou have signed the MoU with SDC, and more are to come.

It is a process for the next years to come. It requires a lot of energy (green energy of course) and patience, by taking things step by step. Was has been done in the past centuries can’t be fixed in a blink of an eye. By supporting each other’s initiatives and by sharing ideas on how to lower carbon emissions, by implementing latest technologies and innovation, sustainable town planning and construction of green, smart and low carbon buildings, as well as by using green transportation, and by a sustainable management of natural resources management, we are heading to the right direction.

We, each one of us, can all be a part of it and contribute towards the goals of becoming a “greener place”!

– turn off the water when you brush your teeth

– turn off the light when you leave the room

– use public transportation and/or take the bicycle or walk a bit, when you next appointment is around the corner

– bring along your own bag, when you go grocery shopping – don’t use their plastic bags

– bring along your mug, when you get a coffee to go (some shops even give you a discount!)

– recycle as good as you can (knowing that waste management is handled differently than in Switzerland)

As said, step by step, and it takes a village… and China is a pretty big one!

So let’s get to it!

– Contributed by Isabel Götz, Head of Operations, swissnex China