Guangdong’s image as the world’s factory has been getting a makeover for the past decade as the province has moved steadily up the manufacturing value chain and its digital economy has risen from nothing to become a world leader. Marching in lockstep with this economic transformation has been an environmental upgrade, which has received less attention. As we reported yesterday, four of the province’s cities are now in the top 10 for air quality nationwide. Shenzhen, once the capital of smog, today ranks behind only Lhasa and Hainan for clean air.
As the saying goes, we ain’t seen nothing yet. There is not a challenge that the provincial government cannot throw a multi-year plan at, and the latest is the construction of forests.
Lazy trash-throwers, beware: Guangdong will follow Shanghai to design and implement waste-sorting rules.
According to local media, the provincial government is aiming to establish a comprehensive waste-sorting system by 2020. Higher standards will be applied to Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the two pilot cities of the waste-sorting program, to establish a world-class sorting system, at least as good as Hong Kong’s and Macau’s.
Many challenges remain to be resolved, however, including transportation, classification and disposal, not to mention recycling systems. The government will build from the community level upward, apparently, and increase the awareness of waste sorting by education and propaganda.
Guangdong is reviewing a proposal by the National Environmental Protection Supervision Committee to make environmental protection a top priority in the development of the Greater Bay Area. According to Chinese media, the provincial government will now work to compile and implement relevant policies, although the proposal suggests that a “centrally coordinated” body be set up among the 11 GBA cities, including the two SARs of Hong Kong and Macau.
The eco-environment within the Greater Bay Area still has some catch-up work to do compared to other Bay Areas around the world, the proposal pointed out. Here, every US$10,000 of GDP consumes 214.47 cubic meters of water, 30% more than the Tokyo Bay Area. Energy consumption per unit of GDP, meanwhile, is at least twice its peers in Japan and the US.
Moreover, local residents probably don’t need to be reminded that air quality around the GBA falls far behind its global counterparts, with an average annual concentration of PM2.5 roughly three times the international standard. And although great strides have been made in tackling water pollution in recent years, toxic water still accounts for nearly 10% of the GBA’s surface water.
The proposal calls for the development of a “world-class quality” eco-environment within the GBA.