China Part Two – Jinzhou and the challenging road to a more sustainable future

I came to Jinzhou City to attend, along with others mayors from around the world and officials from China and the United Nations, a conference on sustainable coastal cities and to share what we have been doing at the City of Fremantle in creating a green, low carbon city.

I met with and heard Chinese Government officials who proudly pronounced their commitment to renewable energy and I saw this boldly demonstrated with whole hillsides covered in solar PV, miles of super efficient LED street lights run off solar panels and innovative wind power installations (see below).

But these sustainability achievements – many that would put most western cities to shame – were demonstrated against an unsettling backdrop of soulless high-rise development, the literal mining of whole mountains, China’s building of a new coal-fired power station every 10 days, and an approach to oceans that was more about nationalistic utilisation than it was about marine conservation.

My time in Jinzhou was a jarring set of juxtapositions that are still bouncing around unresolved around my head. It is clear the road to sustainable development for China is not a straight-forward one. Interestingly the governments of Jinzhou City and China showed a far greater commitment to sustainable development than we have seen in Australia for many years. Similarly, the Chinese people showed a much stronger engagement and commitment to addressing climate change than I now see in Australia- despite the Chinese using less than quarter of the carbon emissions per capita compared to us Aussies.

Despite this it was hard not to come away with a view – perhaps magnified by the grey polluted skies – that development and industrialisation trumps all else in China. Like the rest of the world, the road to a more sustainable planet is one is which the challenges greatly out-number achievements. But by attending sustainable development forums like this you can only hope start a global action for a greener future inches a little closer.

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About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

One Response to China Part Two – Jinzhou and the challenging road to a more sustainable future

  1. Suzanne Blake says:

    Hi Brad
    Some of those images are rather surreal – whole mountains with solar panels! Far out.
    I wish someone would address the real issue – but it seems to be taboo. To me, I feel the elephant in the room is over population. Not just in China (even with their one child policy), but around the world. When will we wake up and realise that the earth just can’t cope and nor can we as humans with our escalating populations. It’s ridiculous to think that we will ever see a ‘greener future’. Be realistic! I’m all for energy efficiency and sustainability, however I feel the real issue is not being talked about seriously enough, if at all. I shake my head at the Federal politicians who not so long ago urged Australia to ‘have one for the country’.


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