Category Archives: Environment

The greening of Asia

Mark L. Clifford,  The greening of Asia: The business case for solving Asia’s environmental emergency, Columbia University, 2015. 320 p.

One of Asia’s best-respected writers on business and economy, Hong Kong-based author Mark L. Clifford provides a behind-the-scenes look at what companies in China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand are doing to build businesses that will lessen the environmental impact of Asia’s extraordinary economic growth. Dirty air, foul water, and hellishly overcrowded cities are threatening to choke the region’s impressive prosperity. Recognizing a business opportunity in solving social problems, Asian businesses have developed innovative responses to the region’s environmental crises.

From solar and wind power technologies to green buildings, electric cars, water services, and sustainable tropical forestry, Asian corporations are upending old business models in their home countries and throughout the world. Companies have the money, the technology, and the people to act–yet, as Clifford emphasizes, support from the government (in the form of more effective, market-friendly policies) and the engagement of civil society are crucial for a region-wide shift to greener business practices. Clifford paints detailed profiles of what some of these companies are doing and includes a unique appendix that encapsulates the environmental business practices of more than fifty companies mentioned in the book.

The Greening of Asia from ChinaFile on Vimeo.

 

Excerpts on ChinaFile

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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CFP – Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development

International Conference 2015 on Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development

Date

  • August 7-9, 2015

Location

  • National Taipei University of Technology Library, 國立台北科技大學, No. 1號, Section 3, Zhōngxiào East Road, Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10608

Smart city governance

The concept of smart city is suggested as a new style of city for providing sustainable growth and encouraging healthy economic activities to reduce the burden on the environment while improving the QoL (Quality of Life) of city residents. Many experimental projects are currently being carried out in the world, which are varied and divers. Many researchers also be actively involved in vitalizing smart city activities and improving the QoL of residents using ICT-representative technology (Information and Communications Technology). For promoting the establishment of smart cities, SPSD2015 is intended to gather researchers and planning consultants who will share their own ideas and the latest results of research and successful case studies in smart city
governance.

Kuanghui PENG, PhD, Professor
Conference 2015 Chairman,
National Taipei University of Technology, Taipei

Brian PAI, PhD, Assoc. Professor
Conference 2015 Vice Chairman,
National Chengchi University, Taipei

Topics

  • Smart city management;
  • Smart infrastructure planning;
  • Smart mobility society, life style and community;
  • Human behaviors, Spatial analysis and urban modelling;
  • Sustainable development indicator, spatial analysis and urban modelling;
  • Sustainable society and community development;
  • Sustainable society, smart city and planning framework;

Important Dates

For full paper submission and afterconference publication:

  • Deadline for abstract (no more than 800 words):15th Feb, 2015
    Extended to 10th, March (Due to Asian Lunar New Year).
  • Notification for the acceptance of abstract:28th Feb, 2015
    (For the submissions until 10th, March, extended to 20th, March).
  • Deadline for full paper:15th April, 2015
    There will be a review process for afterconference publication and deadline for revised manuscripts
  • For abstract only and oral presentation
    Deadline for abstract (no more than 800 words):15th May, 2015
    Notification for the acceptance of abstract:15th June, 2015

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Food waste research in China

Cheng, Shengkui (2014). Special session: Food waste research in China : motivation field study, and preliminary results. The Last Food Mile Conference, December 8, 2014, Philadelphia, USA. http://repository.upenn.edu/thelastfoodmile/sessions/session/21.

Food Waste Away-From-Home in the Beijing Urban Area—An Estimate Based on First-Hand Data

Reducing food waste is attracting growing public attention in China, and is widely acknowledged to contribute to abating interlinked sustainability challenges such as food security, climate change, and water shortages. However, the pattern and scale of food waste throughout the consumer stage is poorly understood in China, despite growing media coverage and public concerns in recent years. This paper aims to the estimate food waste away-from-home in the Beijing urban area, mainly based on first-hand surveys.

During the first-hand surveys in the catering sector in the Beijing urban area in 2013, 187 restaurants were investigated, which can be divided into large, middle, small, canteen and fast food categories. Finally, 3833 samples were been collected, and each sample included two parts: a consumer questionnaire, and the weight of food waste generated.

The main conclusions are as follows: (1) It is estimated that about 79.69 g food waste were generated per capita and per meal away-from-home in the Beijing urban area. Obviously, the food waste varied greatly depending on the type of restaurant. For example, the generation in large restaurants was more severe, up to 3 times that in fast food restaurants. (2) The food waste generated comprises many different food groups; the most prominent by weight were cereals (25%), vegetables (41%), meats( 13%), seafood products (11%), poultry (7%), legumes (1%), eggs (2%), and dairy products (less than 1%). (3) According to different purposes and motivations of the meals, the estimate of food waste is: friends meeting (109 g), public events (95 g),family parties (62 g), working meals(63 g) (4) Causes of food waste away-from-home identified in urban China predominantly involve: lack of awareness, portion sizes, individual food preferences, income, and age of the diner. (5) On this basis, the study estimates annual food waste generation away-from-home in the Beijing urban area at approximately 298×103 tonnes, requiring the inputs of about 93441 hm2 arable land, 774020 hm2 grassland, 2461 hm2 water area and 829×103 m3 water wasted without benefit to the consumer.

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Flushing again in Ordos ?

SEIWater is a scarce resource, especially in the arid plains of Inner Mongolia.

In 2003, the Stockholm Environment Institute in collaboration with a local district of Ordos started to implement a project of eco-sanitation and tested dry toilets. But this initiative came to an end in 2010.

Arno Rosemarin and Guoyi Han explained in a short article the reasons why this poject was not continued.

Rosemarin, A. and Han, G. (2013, January).  Is urban ecological sanitation possible? Lessons from Erdos, China. Stockholm Environment Institute. Retrieved February 8, 2016 from http://www.sei-international.org/-news-archive/2542?format=pdf.

 

 

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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Fantasy islands

Sze, Julie (2015). Fantasy islands : Chinese dreams and ecological fears in an age of climate crisis. Oakland : University of California press. 248 p. (“A Philip E. Lilienthal Book in Asian Studies”). ISBN : 978-0-5202-8448-7.

11623.110The rise of China and its status as a leading global factory are altering the way people live and consume. At the same time, the world appears wary of the real costs involved. Fantasy Islands probes Chinese, European, and American eco-desire and eco-technological dreams, and examines the solutions they offer to environmental degradation in this age of global economic change.

Uncovering the stories of sites in China, including the plan for a new eco-city called Dongtan on the island of Chongming, mega-suburbs, and the Shanghai World Expo, Julie Sze explores the flows, fears, and fantasies of Pacific Rim politics that shaped them. She charts how climate change discussions align with US fears of China’s ascendancy and the related demise of the American Century, and she considers the motives of financial and political capital for eco-city and ecological development supported by elite power structures in the UK and China. Fantasy Islands shows how ineffectual these efforts are while challenging us to see what a true eco-city would be.

Contents

Introduction
1. Fear, Loathing, Eco-Desire: Chinese Pollution in a Transnational World
2. Changing Chongming
3. Dreaming Green: Engineering the Eco-City
4. It’s a Green World After All? Marketing Nature and Nation in Suburban Shanghai
5. Imagining Ecological Urbanism at the World Expo
Conclusion

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Eco-urbanism and the eco-city, or, denying the right to the city?

Caprotti, Federico. (2014) Eco-urbanism and the eco-city, or, denying the right to the city? Antipode : A Radical Journal of Geography. Pre-published online, March 3, 2014. DOI: 10.1111/anti.12087

This paper critically analyses the construction of eco-cities as technological fixes to concerns over climate change, Peak Oil, and other scenarios in the transition towards “green capitalism”. It argues for a critical engagement with new-build eco-city projects, first by highlighting the inequalities which mean that eco-cities will not benefit those who will be most impacted by climate change: the citizens of the world’s least wealthy states. Second, the paper investigates the foundation of eco-city projects on notions of crisis and scarcity. Third, there is a need to critically interrogate the mechanisms through which new eco-cities are built, including the land market, reclamation, dispossession and “green grabbing”. Lastly, a sustained focus is needed on the multiplication of workers’ geographies in and around these “emerald cities”, especially the ordinary urban spaces and lives of the temporary settlements housing the millions of workers who move from one new project to another.

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Light and shadows

An article published last year in Energy and buildings1 highlights the importance of “thermal comfort” factor in the quality of outdoor spaces.

According to the authors, in cities such as Wuhan with a large temperature range, residents’ use of outddoor spaces is mainly determined by thermal comfort. Residents will only use outdoor facilities if they can find “shade” in summer and “light” in fall and winter.  Per consequence, the authors suggest urban planners to pay better attention to micro climatic conditions when designing public spaces.

  1. Lai, D., Zhou, C., Huang, J., Jiang, Y., Long, Z., and Chen, Q. 2014. “Outdoor space quality: a field study in an urban residential community in central China,” Energy and Buildings, 68, Part B, 713-720. []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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Will urbanisation do away with nomads?

Tibetan couple

This photo was taken near Langmu monastery (Langmusi – 浪木寺) in April 2010. This area marks the administrative dividing line between the provinces of Gansu and Sichuan. According to the Tibetan division, however, the region belongs to Amdo, the easternmost Tibetan region, which covers part of Qinghai, part of Sichuan, and a small corner in southwestern Gansu, also known as Gannan (South Gansu).

Most Amdo Tibetans are natural born nomads. Gannan is a region rich in pastures where herders have rambled since ancestral times (70% of its total area). The yak is closely associated to the Tibetan identity: it provides milk for butter, yogurt and cheese, hair for weaving into tents and rope, with the finer fabric made into clothing, and meat.1 Traditionally, nomads would move with each season, but today their lifestyle is suffering a substantial transformation, perhaps at its most threatened.

The Chinese government is determined to push on with sedentarisation policies. Land degradation is often cited as the main reason for sedentarising nomads. Numerous Chinese scholars support these sedentarisation policies.

Attempts to sedentarise nomads are intrinsic to Central and East Asian history, which has always been characterised by a fight between nomads and farmers. China and Russia have both tried several times to do away with nomadic riders. For over a thousand years horses were an advantage in warfare and nomads bred the best. Therefore, they represented a threat and, at the same time, an appealing booty. In the 1890s, Russia attempted to transform nomads in reliable taxpayers by encouraging their settlement. It did so by fostering a massive colonisation of farmers. Thus, people from different regions occupied the Central Asian pasturelands. It is estimated that between 1896 and 1916, more than one million colonist took over one-fifth of the land. By 1912, Turkestan produced 64% of Russian cotton. These policies would later be reinforced by the Soviet Union, and Central Asia became a mostly one-crop economy.2

In China, grasslands cover more than 40% of the country, which represents four times the area of its forests and three times its total arable land. In contrast to agricultural land, grassland is state-owned unless a collective title can be legally proven.3 This situation has stirred up conflict between local governments and collectives since there seems to be no legal mechanism available to prove property as pasturelands have traditionally been used according to customary tenure.4 Likewise, although the House Responsibility System was successfully implemented in agricultural lands, it brought about many changes to the nomadic lifestyle since nomads’ access to vast expanses of land was restricted as a result. This has in turn led to overgrazing in some cases due to the small size of land available for pasture for each family unit.5

Herders often are deprived of grazing lands due to land reclamation for commercial or farming use. The quest for resources and the consequent mining boom has been another common cause of expropriation in Inner Mongolia (coal production rose almost 50% in 2010). And courts are often reluctant to hear cases related to the inappropriate use of grasslands.6

Nowadays, nomads in China no longer rely on horses, but on motorcycles. Nomadic life has changed somewhat since Tibetans have been provided with houses and a living stipend under the resettlement programme, so they no longer look for pasture during the winter

Infrastructure is improving greatly. Once isolated, the region of Gannan is getting closer to Gansu and Sichuan’s capitals by the day. A modern highway well into construction will soon cross its heart. To make this possible, some mountain zones were dug up to build consecutive tunnels stretching for more than 20 kilometers. Good communication brings tourists and settlers alien to these lands once again.

The term semi-nomadic would be therefore more appropriate to define Amdo Tibetans. They usually just alternate between a winter home and a summer tent. During winter, children attend school. Education is an important part of the resettlement program. According to a report on the resettlement of Kham Tibetans written by Kieran Dodds for the South China Morning Post,7 resettlement is producing an educated but rurally ignorant generation. “Education will ruin our culture”, laments a Tibetan teacher interviewed by Dodds, when describing how compulsory education is driving the resettlement of nomads. As discussed with Norha’s Tibetan entrepreneurs, the problem is that authorities give economic allowances, build houses, but don’t provide job opportunities that may constitute an alternative to herding. Thus, sedentarisation policies often lead to alcoholism and more criminality as recipients of allowances become idle, having given up what they do best.

Bob Dylan is claimed to have said that a man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do. He might well have got inspiration from the lifestyle of nomads in places such as Mongolia, Tibet, and the Central Asian steppes. It would be interesting to see whether Amdo semi-nomads still manage to be a success once urbanisation and sedentarisation policies have been fully implemented. The only clear thing is that no one is immune to the homogenisation of lifestyles taking shape in the world, not even the traditionally most resilient tribes of the northern steppes.

 

  1. The Yak. Gerald Wiener (2003) FAO. United Nations. []
  2. Peter B. Golden (2011) Central Asia in World History. Oxford University Press. []
  3. PRC Constitution, Article 9. []
  4. Peter Ho (2005) Institutions in Transition: Land Ownership, Property Rights and Social Conflict in China, Oxford University Press. []
  5. Ostrom, E.J. (1999) Revisiting the Commons: Local Lessons, Global Challenges. Science Vol. 284, Nº5412. []
  6. South China Morning Post, Mongolians “sidelined” in mining growth, 1 juin 2011. []
  7. Promised land. SCMP. 6 January, 2013. []

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Measuring eco cities, comparing European and Asian experiences: Rotterdam versus Beijing

Meine Pieter van Dijk (2015). Measuring eco cities, comparing European and Asian experiences: Rotterdam versus Beijing. Asia Europe Journal. 20 p. Published online: 4 January 2015. URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10308-014-0405-7

Many cities have taken initiatives to achieve more sustainable development or to become ecological cities. In this paper, ten dimensions are suggested for defining ecological cities and an effort has been made to provide indicators to measure them. Many cities claim to be ecological cities, but there are no non-ambiguous definitions of ecological cities and few efforts have been made to measure to what extent the cities have achieved their goal. This paper considers the efforts of Beijing and Rotterdam to become more eco cities, using these dimensions. What can we learn from these experiences for developing the city of the future? In an illustrative effort to apply the suggested criteria, Rotterdam scored slightly better than Beijing. The latter city is facing more serious environmental problems and is willing to try more innovative solutions, while Rotterdam spends more money on prevention and CO2 reduction.

Read full text online (free access)

 

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Dams and development in China: the moral economy of water and power

Tilt, Bryan (2014). Dams and development in China : the moral economy of water and power. New York : Columbia university press. 280 p. (Contemporary Asia in the World). ISBN: 978-0-2311-7010-9.

China is home to half of the world’s large dams and adds dozens more each year. The benefits are considerable: dams deliver hydropower, provide reliable irrigation water, protect people and farmland against flooding, and produce hydroelectricity in a nation with a seeimingly insatiable appetite for energy. As hydropower responds to a larger share of energy demand, dams may also help to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, welcome news in a country where air and water pollution have become dire and greenhouse gas emissions are the highest in the world.

Yet the advantages of dams come at a high cost for river ecosystems and for the social and economic well-being of local people, who face displacement and farmland loss. This book examines the array of water-management decisions faced by Chinese leaders and their consequences for local communities. Focusing on the southwestern province of Yunnan–a major hub for hydropower development in China–which encompasses one of the world’s most biodiverse temperate ecosystems and one of China’s most ethnically and culturally rich regions, Bryan Tilt takes the reader from the halls of decision-making power in Beijing to Yunnan’s rural villages. In the process, he examines the contrasting values of government agencies, hydropower corporations, NGOs, and local communities and explores how these values are linked to longstanding cultural norms about what is right, proper, and just. He also considers the various strategies these groups use to influence water-resource policy, including advocacy, petitioning, and public protest. Drawing on a decade of research, he offers his insights on whether the world’s most populous nation will adopt greater transparency, increased scientific collaboration, and broader public participation as it continues to grow economically.

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Eco-cities and the transition to low carbon economies

Caprotti, Federico (2014). Eco-cities and the transition to low carbon economies. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan. 136 p. ISBN : 9781137298751 (Hardcover) / 9781137298751 (Ebook EPUB) / 9781137298751 (Ebook PDF).

9781137298751.inddEco-cities are increasingly being marketed as solutions to a range of pressing global concerns, such as environmental and climate change, hyper-urbanization, demographic shifts, energy security, and the Peak Oil scenario. In response to these issues, eco-cities are being conceptualized as ‘experimental cities’, new urban areas in which new technologies and ways of organizing urban and economic life can be trialled, and where transition pathways towards low-carbon economies can be tested. The author examines the two most advanced eco-city projects under construction at the time of writing – the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City in China, and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. These are the largest and most notable attempts at building new eco-cities to both face up to the ‘crises’ of the modern world and to use the city as an engine for transition to a low-carbon economy.

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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城市规划原理 (Principles of urban planning)

4th edition of the volume edited by a team of professors from the Tongji University, with Li Dehua (李德华) as chief editor. Published by Zhongguo jianzhu gongye chubanshe (中国建筑工业出版社) in 2010.

PUP

《高校城市规划专业指导委员会规划推荐教材:城市规划原理(第4版)》系统地阐述了城乡规划的基本原理、规划设计的原则和方法,以及规划设计的经济问题。主要内容分22章叙述,包括城市与城市化、城市规划思想发展、城市规划体制、城市规划的价值观、生态与环境、经济与产业、人口与社会、历史与文化、技术与信息、城市规划的类型与编制内容、城市用地分类及其适用性评价、城乡区域规划、总体规划、控制性详细规划、城市交通与道路系统、城市生态与环境规划、城市工程系统规划、城乡住区规划、城市设计、城市遗产保护与城市复兴、城市开发规划、城市规划管理。

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Consumerist and ideological eco-imaginaries in the cinema of Feng Xiaogang

Corrado Neri (2013). China has a natural environment, too! Consumerist and ideological eco-imaginaries in the cinema of . Interactions,  pp.91-107. https://hal-univ-lyon3.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00835781

Abstract

Feng Xiaogang, the ‘Chinese Spielberg’, produces huge blockbusters and hilarious comedies directed at a broad audience. Although his work does not strictly deal with environmental issues, it provides us with a privileged perspective through which to analyse the discourses around the theme of nature. Feng Xiaogang’s works are not explicitly environmental, they do address the contradictions and differing anxieties linked to China’s economic and environmental development. For example, A World Without Thieves (Feng Xiaogang, 2004) employs the natural image of Tibetan mountains as a symbol of search for oneself and introspection, while it symbolically links Tibet to China, setting aside the political troubles that regularly hit the region. Likewise the stunning landscapes in If You are the One 1&2 (Feng Xiaogang, 2008 and 2010) sorry don’t understand; I mean: If You are the One (2008) and If You are the One 2 (2010) remind us of the importance of nature, rural surroundings, and the absence of human intervention within the changing of seasons, hinting at the same time at the dangers of losing such natural richness. Simultaneously these built-up, symbolic images refer to dreams of capitalist possession where nature turns into nothing but a marketing tool, a status symbol, a showcase of wealth and vanity parade. As forms of symbolic power imposed on the collective imagination and symptoms of the ever-growing need to be aware of the fragility of nature and the dangers of uncontrolled development, these films bring into play several contradictory discourses that cannot be ignored in the future development of China and Chinese cinema. Like every great producer of popular cinema, Feng Xiaogang produces narratives governed by the public and consumerist doxa, from which potentially subversive apprehensions emerge.

 Full text on the French multi-disciplinary open access archive HAL

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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A training on quantifying emissions of urban transport in Chengdu

HBEFA China Banner2

On 20 November 2014, GIZ and the China Sustainable Urban Transport Research Centre (CUSTReC) conducted a training on quantifying emissions of urban transport in Chengdu.

Chengdu is one of three pilot cities in the Large City Congestion and Carbon Reduction project financed through the Global Environment Fund and managed by the World Bank. One of the activities of the Project Management Office of the GEF in Chengdu is to monitor the development of their transport emissions. GIZ cooperates with CUSTReC and the World Bank to support the quantification of transport emissions, using the China Road Transport Emission Model (HBEFA China).

Read the full text on Sustainable Transport in China

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Warmer relations between Washington and Beijing on climate change

After European Union leaders’ decision to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030, US and China also agreed to take actions to limit greenhouse gases.

These decisions are very ambitious, and could literally save the world from pollution and climate change, but as noted by Rebecca Leber1, there might be some obstacles to their implementation.

Both countries have a lot of work ahead to get to these targets.

  1. LEBER, R., 2014. The World has waited for the U.S. and China to ake action on climate change. They just did, The New Republic, November 12, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120242/us-and-china-reach-agreement-climate-change []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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