Tuesday, March 28th, 2023

Will the Expo Make Shanghai Green?

This is in no small part due to the special position of China, a country where developmental advances and environmental challenges coexist in unique tension. In China, the world sees its environmental problems and solutions exhibited with exemplary vividness.

By the end of the 20th century, following two decades of extremely rapid economic growth, China’s dream of industrial modernization had been transformed into an established fact, and the environmental consequences of this achievement were quickly coming into focus. Store your old car Energy consumption was a special concern, sparking alarm over energy security and environmental deterioration.

Despite comparatively highly-developed hydro resources, coal still accounted for close to 80% of the country’s electricity, resulting in severe particulate atmospheric pollution and carbon emissions that extorted a cruel toll from the nation’s lungs and in its hazardous mining industry. Global warming projections were particularly menacing given the country’s exceptional vulnerability to desertification and rising sea levels.

Since the beginning of the new millennium, the Chinese government has strongly committed to advanced energy technology, prioritizing research, development, and installation of hydro, wind, solar, and nuclear power. Wind-power capacity in the country has been massively expanded and a solar industry built from scratch to become the world’s largest (by production volume), while clean coal (gassification) technology, household solar water heaters, and energy-efficient lighting have been vigorously pursued. Prior to the Copenhagen climate conference, it declared plans to produce 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, while reducing the energy intensity of economic activities by 40-45%.

While Chinese industrialization was attended by enormous environmental problems, rising prosperity brought remedies within reach. In the country’s increasingly affluent coastal city’s, a variety of environmental indicators improved remarkably. Since the turn of the millennium, Shanghai’s air and water quality have been steadily raised, its waterways cleaned, and green space expanded (from 20% to 38% of the urban area, and from 3.62 sqm to 12.5 sqm per capita).

Development of the city’s transport infrastructure has been guided by long-term environmental considerations, emphasizing tracked mass-transit systems and the phased introduction of low-emissions public road vehicles. In addition, the importance of heritage preservation has risen to become a central guideline of urban reconstruction. Recent professional polling shows that 87% of Shanghai residents acknowledge a clear improvement in environment quality.

Since winning the Expo bid in 2002, Shanghai has launched a succession of three-year environmental action plans, investing roughly 3% of the city’s GDP of green projects over the period (for a total exceeding RMB 225 billion, or US$33 billion).

The Expo theme of ‘Better city, better life’, with its obvious environmental connotations, was made a discussion topic in the city’s schools, and public campaigns were launched to encourage environmentally-conscious individual behavior, from rubbish classification and reduction in the usage of plastic shopping bags, to economical usage of water and air conditioning. These initiatives have been coordinated with the United Nations Environmental Programme.

The Expo site itself has been planned as an environmental show case, with the aim of closely matching green messages to applications of advanced green technologies. Sustainability and heritage protection were adopted as governing criteria during the process of construction, favoring eco-friendly materials. The major structures incorporate equipment for solar and geothermal energy generation, river water thermal conduction, and rainwater collection and purification, with total solar power capacity of the Expo Park is estimated at 4.7 megawatts.

The most visually arresting green innovation has been erected along the Expo Boulevard’s ‘Sun Valley’, where six giant funnels swallow sunlight and rainfall for the lower levels of the structure. Power-saving lighting based on LED (light emitting diode) systems have been widely employed.

Transport operations at the site have been treated as a test-bed for zero-emissions vehicle technologies, demonstrated in a mixed fleet of buses and buggies. Expo participants have aligned themselves enthusiastically with the green agenda, competing to establish national and corporate brand-building credentials through environmentally sensitive processes, technologies, and messages. Among the national pavilions, in particular, attention to green concerns has been a universal feature, foregrounded in building designs, exhibitions, themes, and public relations.

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