Even as China undergoes one of the most rapid urban transformations in the world, the Chinese government is promoting sustainable development to curb the country’s growing rate of carbon emissions, a World Bank urban specialist said in Beijing on recently.
“China is moving faster” than most governments in adopting sustainable urban development, Daniel Hoornweg, the World Bank’s lead urban specialist, told Xinhua News at the launch of a World Book annual report that compiles statistics on environment-related issues. “The government is encouraging that cities be developed to follow a low-carbon path.”
The World Bank report, the Little Green Data Book 2009, found that cities are the key to the cause and abatement of global warming. The distinction lies in density.
Cities derive 72 percent of their energy from fossil fuels; however, people who live in more dense city-centers, on average, often produce 30 to 50 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than their suburban neighbors. For example, a person living in New York produce one-third to one-half less greenhouse gasses than someone living in Denver, said Hoornweg.
As urbanization continues to spread around the world, an estimated 70 percent of the earth’s population will live in cities by 2050. Therefore, the World Bank argues that sustainable urban planning offer the best means to slow the rate of global warming.
Approximately 90 percent of China’s gross domestic product will come from urban infrastructure that is not yet built, said Hoornweg, who added that cities and development are inextricably linked.
“There is a backlog of urban work that needs to be done,” Katherine Sierra, the World Bank’s vice president for sustainable development told reporters. “Climate change adds to the urgency.”