Since it was granted the right to host Olympics in 2001 China has been developing green policies. While this was at first largely a response to the fact that the Sydney Olympics had established environmental sustainability as a ‘third tenet’ of the international Olympics movement, the momentum towards more responsible attitudes to the environment has been building recently.
Green building has been given importance in both China’s 11th Five-Year-Plan and its medium and long-term plan for science and technology development. As noted by Austrade, the Australian agency charged with developing exports in goods and services, some outcomes of this elevated emphasis include:
- The government will invest approximately US$400 billion on energy efficiency projects before 2010.
- The government has launched an ambitious plan to renovate existing buildings to make them more energy-efficient. Twenty-five per cent of the buildings in medium-sized cities and 10 per cent of those in small cities will be refurbished by 2020.
- The government has also indicated it will announce tax rebates and other financial incentives for the construction and purchase of energy efficient buildings in the future.
- There are 11 'Green Cities' and 140 'Green Building' projects under construction. Australian consultants are scrambling to be involved, and their ability to compete with other international consultants is in no small part due to Australia’s relatively long commitment to developing the tools and regulations for energy efficiency and other sustainability measures in buildings.
How ironic therefore to contrast the scope of China’s initiatives, with the miniscule spending by the Australian government on its much trumpeted Solar Cities program (see my last post), and how disturbing that Prime Minister Howard has again suggested that Australians will have to choose at the next elections between more stringent green policies put forward by the opposition parties, and economic viability.
China is more usually seen as the dirty bogey man willing to endure environmental degradation. Given that even the Chinese government has realised that environmental degradation and energy waste are obstacles to China’s economic growth, I can only wonder how long it will take our blinkered government to come to the same conclusion.
Read the Austrade briefing here: