Vice Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development Expounds Three Approaches to Rigid Carbon Emissions Standards
In an interview with reporters in Dec. 2009, QIU Baoxing, Vice Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, discussed how to curb carbon emissions in the construction industry, urban transportation, and urbanization. His interview may be summarized as follows.
Firstly, to construct green buildings to relieve the bottleneck in development. China has the largest construction market in the world. The total building area in China has surpassed 40 billion m2, and there will be 1.6 - 2 billion m2 of new floor area added annually in the future, with new floor area surpassing 20 billion m2 by 2020. The continuous increases in building energy consumption will dominate energy consumption and emission in the next 20 years.
Secondly, promote public transport to create widespread means of low-carbon motorized urban transportation. Inter-city rail transport and associated highways should be priorities in construction. In terms of urban transport, specialized bicycle right-of-ways and pedestrian sidewalks should be maintained and expanded, the public transport such as subway, rapid transit, bus priority lanes, and common buses should be fully developed. Public transport travel means should be optimized in following with the goal of being “rapid, accurate, cheap, and high-quality” before citizens develop the habit of taking private cars. In so doing, it will be possible to reduce the carbon emission and air pollution produced by transportation.
Thirdly, choose the correct development mode of urbanization. In China, about 85% of energy resources are consumed by cities, which also release 85% of carbon dioxide. Along with the development of urbanization, the proportion of urban residents will exceed 50% of the total population in the near future. Currently there are nearly 15 million people migrating to cities each year, a rate which will continue for a certain period. This trend requires mixed and compact land-use in cities. Meanwhile, efforts should also be made to enhance basic research in green transportation, green building, green communities, raw water recycling, etc., and to improve the gardening and greening in cities, so as to make full use of greening methods to realize energy conservation and pollution reduction, including sequestering pollutants and reducing the urban heat island effect. Moreover, green infrastructure construction should be promoted, and new techniques and economic incentive policies should be adopted in the fields of transportation, water supply, heat supply, sewage and garbage disposal, etc.