How-to China: China’s green policies are taking effect

A desertification control worker makes straw checkerboard barriers in the Tengger Desert along the construction site of the Qingtongxia-Zhongwei section of the Wuhai-Maqin highway in Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region, Sept 7, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]


The sixth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee was recently concluded. One of the things they did was they released a resolution on the Communist Party of China’s history. They summed up the achievements of the Party over the last 100 years and a major category of this was environmental protection.

You visited China many times, so what are some accomplishments or achievements you personally witnessed? What are some striking experiences that you’ve had?

Solheim: First of all, it’s the scale of progress. Look, first time I visited China, there were no private cars in China. There was one metro line in the entire nation. There was no high-speed rail.

China now may be the most modern nation in the world and it has brought more people out of poverty at a higher speed than any other nation in human history.

But that also gives confidence that when China can be so successful fighting poverty, of course it can be as successful establishing an ecological civilization.

Ten years back, Chinese cities were horribly polluted. The pollution in Beijing, Shanghai or Tianjin is much less thanks to good policies by the ministry of environment and government.

On water pollution I observed, they have fought water pollution in Zhejiang province. It’s world class. They have done in a few years in Zhejiang what we in Europe did in 30 years, turning an extremely polluted area into an area of hope and green tourism.

In Inner Mongolia, China’s tree planting is leading the world in reigning in desert in a way no other nation has achieved.

And many Chinese cities like Hangzhou, Suzhou, Shenzhen are among the greenest in the world.

There are more electric buses in Shenzhen alone than there are in the entire world outside China combined. Shenzhen is leading the world when it comes to turning a city into green.

Basically on every environmental technology, China is leading at scale.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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