Governance, Environment and Socio-Economic Imperatives
Edited by François Gipouloux
Chapter 7: The ‘eco’ and ‘low-carbon’ promise: a critical review of China’s experience
We project that China will build almost 40 billion square meters of floor space over the next 20 years . . . the equivalent of up to 10 New York cities. (MGI, 2009, p. 18) Without a doubt, Chinese urban development in the last three decades has combined scale and speed in unique and unprecedented ways. Overall energy demand in China is expected to more than double between 2015 and 2025, with urban demand reaching 85 to 90 per cent of total demand (Bina et al., 2013). Each year, 10 million people migrate from rural to urban areas, a flow predicted to add up to 350 million new residents in urban areas by 2030, leading to an urban population of 900 million by 2050 (OECD–CDRF, 2010). Urbanization and economic growth have become almost synonymous in contemporary China’s public discourse; thus Premier Li Keqiang champions urbanization as a ‘huge engine’ that will ‘usher in a huge amount of consumption and investment demand, increasing job opportunities, create wealth for farmers, and bring benefits to the people’ (Shen and Loo, 2013). Indeed, China’s urbanization process has progressed faster than economic growth since 2004 (Chen et al., 2013). Against this backdrop, the Chinese government subscribed to broad notions of sustainable urban development, and rapidly accumulating social and environmental problems (notably air and water pollution levels) have contributed to push this high on Chinese leaders’ agendas (NPC, 2011).
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