Sunday, February 8, 2009

Good News and Bad News for China’s Eco-cities

ResponsibleChina.com draws lessons about China’s development models as it compares the success and failure stories of China’s eco-city projects.

I had a brief conversation with a friend majoring in media about “good news” and “bad news.” He claimed that when you tell someone you have good news and bad news, they will usually request to hear the bad news first. So here’s the bad news: China’s most high-profile eco-towns are failing.

According to Ethical Corporation Magazine, China’s eco-towns planned for Huangbaiyu and Dongtan are not doing so well. In Huangbaiyu, new eco-friendly houses were planned to cost $3,600 (reasonably affordable) and ended up at $20,000 (not affordable at all). The new houses also had garages, even though not a single villager actually owns a car. Sponsored by the China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development and Deng Nan, Deng Xiaoping’s daughter, the project is now receiving no funding and U.S. helpers have gone home.

[...] So what is the good news? Ethical Corporation deems Rizhao - “City of Sunshine” - as a prototype for creating successful eco-towns. Rizhao aimed not to be a high-profile eco-town, but merely to have its energy converted to solar power. Using subsidies and cheap technology, Rizhao has achieved a significant reduction in electric and coal power. Now, 99% of households in the city center and 30% in the suburbs have solar panels.