2019-06 03
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‘Bicycle Kingdom’ makes a comeback, as China seeks solutions to tackle air pollution crisis



Cars have replaced bicycles as the primary means of transport in many Chinese cities but, with air pollution a major problem for the country, the bike is making a comeback, thanks to digital technology, and some 21st Century thinking. China was once considered to be the "Kingdom of the Bicycle,” with bikes dominating city streets across the country, but over the past four decades, China’s dramatic economic prosperity and urbanization has seen many people move to motor vehicles as their primary means of transport, contributing to a marked deterioration in air quality. In Hangzhou, a city in eastern China that was once described by the Italian explorer Marco Polo as “the finest and most splendid city in the world,” air pollution has had a devastating effect. According to data backed by the World Health Organization (WHO), Hangzhou’s air pollution is well over WHO’s safe level. However, in a bid to improve public health and the environment, the Hangzhou authorities have put a fresh emphasis on cycling, which, allied with digital technology, is helping to cut pollution: other cities are following their example. Over the past decade, the local government has been improving bike-friendly infrastructure, such as lanes and traffic signals created solely for cyclists, and has provided almost 86,000 public bikes. A smart card allows users to easily access all forms of public transport, from bikes to boats to buses. “All together there have been 760 million rides, that’s almost half the population of China,” says Tao Xuejun, general manager of the Hangzhou Public Bicycle Service. “So far, more than 400 cities in China have adopted our project. Our dream is to promote our model across China and all over the world.” As a result of these initiatives, according to Tao, cycling has become a popular choice for both local citizens and tourists, and the efforts of the Government-run company have been rewarded with international recognition, including the International Ashden Award for Sustainable Travel in 2017. A mobile app that plants millions of trees As well as leading the Chinese cycling resurgence, Hangzhou is home to an innovative way to encourage more sustainable lifestyles, with an app that is helping to stop desertification, cut air pollution and plant millions of new trees.   The “Ant Forest” mini-program, a Hangzhou-based project from giant Chinese payments and lifestyle app Alipay, incites users to make small, environmentally friendly decisions in their daily lives, such as cycling rather than driving to work, or recycling clothes. When users perform any carbon-reducing activities, they are rewarded with “green energy” points. As they accumulate enough virtual points, a real tree is planted. According to Ant Financial, more than 100 million trees have been planted, thanks to the low-carbon actions of 500 million individuals, roughly 5% of the world's population. Beijing’s fight to see through the haze Internationally, one of the best-known examples of harmful air pollution affecting quality of life in a city, is the Chinese capital, Beijing. Beijing’s remarkable development over the last two decades saw a significant, and visible, rise in air pollution, due to a combination of factors, including coal-related pollutants; the growth of motor transport, especially logistics freight trucks; heavy industry; and dust from buildings and roads, according to one of the main authors of a UN led report, A review of 20 Years’ Air Pollution Control in Beijing. Fine particulates – tiny, invisible airborne particles – are largely responsible for deaths and illnesses from air pollution. The smallest, and deadliest, are called PM2.5 particles, which bypass the body’s defences and lodge in the lungs, bloodstream and brain. Business, public buildings and households account for around half of PM2.5 emissions. Today, fine particulate pollution in Beijing’s air is still 7.3 times the safe level the WHO’s annual safe level, but the local and regional governments have managed to improve the situation in recent years. By working together on a strategy to tackle the problem, by using the legal, economic and technological tools at its disposal, the concentration of fine particles in the air fell by one third, beating the target set by the State Council, China’s main administrative body. “Beijing has achieved impressive air quality improvements in a short amount of time,” said Dechen Tsering, Director of UN Environment’s Asia Pacific Regional Office. “It is a good example of how a large city in a developing country can balance environmental protection and economic growth,” she stressed. China is hosting the 2019 UN World Environment Day on June 05, with air pollution as the theme, The main events marking the day, will take place in Hangzhou. Source: UN News Date: June 3, 2019

2019-05 29
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China, Netherlands see great cooperation potential in building green cities



THE HAGUE, May 29 (Xinhua) -- The Holland Garden pavilion, a mini green city, has fascinated many at the 2019 International Horticultural Exhibition in Beijing. For Chinese and Dutch actors in sustainable urban development, a shared passion for doing it green brings vigor to bilateral cooperation. With state-of-the-art developments showcased at the Beijing expo, the Netherlands has again proved itself to be a global trendsetter in Green living. Over the past more than 30 years, the Dutch and the Chinese have worked together to introduce a variety of Dutch native plants and flowers and new planting technologies and management into China, said the Chinese embassy in the European country. Bernard Oosterom, president of the International Association of Horticultural Producers, said China's horticultural industry has grown rapidly, with some of its domestic enterprises at the forefront of new technologies. "I firmly believe that the Beijing expo will bring the attention of the world to what China is doing to help the environment and improve the lives of citizens," the veteran Dutch gardener added. "It is my hope that this will lead to collective action that will lead to a better environment and greener cities through the use of plants and the landscape," he told Xinhua. A green city is much more than green plants, and horticulture is not the only area where the Dutch and the Chinese people are conducting cooperation to promote sustainable development. For example, in the field of urban water and land resources management, a consortium of Dutch institutes and businesses was created in September 2017 to promote joint research programs and commercial, tailored solutions with Chinese partners. Its many well-known members, including Deltares, Eijkelkamp, Priva and Tauw, boast expertise in areas ranging from sponge city design and planning, environmental big data monitoring and simulation, environmental and urban housing research to intelligent buildings technology and environmental control systems. As regards waste management and circular economy, the Netherlands likes to call itself "a small country with big ambitions." It has committed itself to becoming a zero-waste economy by 2050, wherein the economy will run completely on reusable raw materials. A Dutch group on waste management comprising research institutes and leading business players has already started working with the Chinese side to develop innovative plans on how to handle the problem. "China, with the largest population on earth, has a tremendous opportunity to turn waste into valuable resources and the Dutch partnership for waste management is eager to contribute to China's goal to create a proper waste management system as a crucial building block toward achieving that goal," said the Dutch Sino Business Promotions. Wageningen University &Research (WUR), a Dutch global knowledge leader in areas like water resource management, climate change and urban farming, also has broad experience in developing green cities. "We do several projects on landscape architecture and nature-inclusive design of areas in China in order to create more liveable urban development," Tim van Hattum, the leader of the WUR's Green Climate Solutions program, told Xinhua. "WUR is strong in a bottom-up co-design approach by organizing tools and services to co-create integrated solution together with stakeholders. We have knowledge of nature-based approaches, landscape architecture, and China is strong in large-scale pilot projects (such as the sponge city program) and large-scale implementation and urban development," he said. "The WUR green city approach could be of added value for urban development in China and there is definitely potential for future collaboration on the topic of green city development," he added. Zhang Guosheng, economic counselor of the Chinese embassy in the Netherlands, agrees that with the previous fruitful projects paving the way, the Sino-Dutch cooperation in building green cities is promising. "The Dutch are strong in green growth, and we Chinese are eager for a greener life," he said. "Cooperation in this field will offer not only a bigger market for Dutch enterprises, a better life for Chinese people, but also good cases for others to study." Source: People's Daily Online Date: May 29, 2019

2019-05 20
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Chinese experience inspires world's greening efforts



Darshika Hennayake, a graduate student from Sri Lanka, analyzes leachate samples of lettuce obtained from her research at the Soil Lab of Nanjing Forestry University in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, on May 17, 2019. (Xinhua/Atcha Ponn) BEIJING, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Together with her fellow Chinese researchers, Darshika Hennayake harvests lettuce from a soil lab and is ready to evaluate the soil nitrogen dynamics. At Nanjing Forestry University in east China's Jiangsu Province, Hennayake, a graduate student from Sri Lanka, has been researching on how to reduce greenhouse gases in rice paddies and vegetable cultivation by using the biochar. Hennayake formerly worked as an environment officer at a state-run irrigation project in Sri Lanka, and started her study at the Chinese university in September last year. "Chinese people know the value of nature, as they always say that clean waters and green mountains are as valuable as gold and silver," Hennayake said, noting that she has been impressed by China's environmental protection efforts and achievements, especially in fighting air and water pollution. She said Sri Lanka has a lot of freshwater resources and different forest types, but the country faces problems such as deforestation, soil erosion and population. She plans to bring new environmental control technologies tested in China back to her country after graduation. Hennayake is not the only foreigner who is keen on learning from China's greening experience. Tan Oui How, from Malaysia, has been living in Beijing for years. Tan said the city had adopted a set of measures to improve the environment, such as removing illegal buildings which occupied forest land and converting from coal burning to natural gas in countryside. "The government is quick in action, and the effect has been obvious," Tan said. UNSWERVING EFFORTS As one of the first countries to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, China has pledged to halt the rise in carbon dioxide emissions by around 2030. With a resolve to pursue green development and the vision of building a "Beautiful China," China has invested great efforts in ecological conservation. Between 2013 and 2018, the country completed afforestation of 40 million hectares. The national reserve forest system has been launched, with 3.18 million hectares of forest being either created or delineated as the national reserve. A study in February using data from NASA satellites showed that China had contributed to at least 25 percent of the increase in the global green leaf area since the early 2000s. China has also established a protection scheme by assigning each waterway a specific "river or lake chief," amid efforts to treat water pollution. China's environmental protection efforts have gained a world-renowned reputation. "China has a lot to offer in terms of lessons, for example, on how the government set up policies to address the issue of pollution," said Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme. EXPO FOR GREENER LIFE The ongoing Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition offers a glimpse into China's commitments to green development. The expo's Honor Day of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), held on May 11, highlighted China's engagement in international meteorological cooperation and the global campaign against climate change. Since 1972 when China resumed its position in the WMO, the country has been actively involved in all kinds of activities in the organization. In 2017, the China Meteorological Administration signed a letter of intent with the WMO, aiming to improve regional meteorological disaster forecasting and climate change handling ability, as well as promoting meteorological services in Belt and Road construction. During the expo's "Inner Mongolia Day," lasting from Thursday to Saturday, visitors were introduced to environmental protection achievements in the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The region boasts a combination of landscapes including forests, grasslands and the Gobi desert. It has been pushing forward with afforestation efforts, utilizing the unique characteristics of the various land areas. Forest coverage rate of the region was increased from 21.03 percent in 2013 to 22.10 percent in 2018, while the grassland vegetation coverage rate reached 44 percent last year, a growth of 14 percentage points from 2000. "China has led the way in promoting green development," said Bernard Oosterom, president of the International Association of Horticultural Producers. "I am confident that the legacy of this expo will be greener lives for generations to come," he said. Source: People's Daily Online Date: May 20, 2019

2019-05 13
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WMO "honor day" kicks off at horticultural expo



People make satellite models in ecological and meteorological house during the "World Meteorological Organization Honorary Day" theme event held as part of the Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition in Yanqing District in Beijing, capital of China, May 11, 2019. (Xinhua/Ju Huanzong) BEIJING, May 11 (Xinhua) -- World Meteorological Organization (WMO) "honor day" kicked off at the ongoing International Horticultural Exhibition in Beijing Saturday. Zhang Wenjian, assistant secretary-general of the WMO, said a majority of the natural disasters in 2018 related to extreme weather and environmental degradation, which affected nearly 62 million people. As global warming and climate change have increasing influence on the society and economy, WMO is devoted to providing operational, accessible and authoritative information and service on the changing earth system, Zhang told a press conference on the "honor day" event. The ecological and meteorological exhibition area at the expo was supported jointly by the WMO, China Meteorological Administration and Beijing Meteorological Service, focusing on the relationship between meteorology, horticulture and life. The exhibition area not only interpreted how climate change closely related to human civilization but also established the eco-meteorological observing station which was capable of providing real-time observation data on meteorology. Source: People's Daily Online Date: May 13, 2019

2019-04 30
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Hebei will create 600 national forest villages



Hebei Province has recently issued the "Hebei Province Rural Greening and Landscaping Action Plan", which proposes that by 2020, 600 distinctive and beautiful livable national forest villages will be created in the province, while 1,000 provincial forest villages and a number of demonstration counties will be created. The plan pointed out that the creation of forests and villages should be combined with the protection of ancient villages, ancient buildings, celebrities and monuments, and strengthen the protection of village forests, fengshui forests, and landscape forests according to the topography, and promote the harmonious unification of human and natural landscapes. To increase the amount of ecological green in rural areas, carry out the construction of surrounding village forests, road protection forests, bank protection forests, windbreaks and sand fixation forests, farmland (pastoral) forest networks, etc. according to local conditions, and carry out bare mountains in the countryside, quarrying and soil-wounding, abandoned mines, and heavy metal pollution And so on. The plan emphasizes the scientific development of rural greening and beautification, encourages the creation of mixed forests, and implements rehabilitation and reconstruction of degraded shelterbelts with poor growth and low protection functions to improve the quality of shelterbelt network functions. (Reporter Bai Bo) Source:Beijing daily Date:Apr 30, 2019