Last summer, Shanghaiist snapped this picture of the grassy roofs of the Jin Jiang Hotel on Mao Ming Lu. Hotel workers said the grass had been there “for some time” and that it was “mandated by the district government.”
Seeing as we’d never heard local cadres require anything as environmentally friendly, water conserving, or money saving as this, we were skeptical of this claim. That is, until Shanghai Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau announced its new three-year plan.
The new plan does not specifically recommend green roofs, but does signal that Shanghai is finally going to strive for environmental standards rivaling those of Europe and North America. In other words, Shanghai, along with the rest of China, is starting to focus on sustainable development instead of breakneck development.
One of the first changes will be new vehicle emission standards that limit polluting vehicles from entering central Shanghai.
In an act of sado-masochism, Shanghaiist spent a couple hours translating the bureaucrat speak in a China Economic Times article about the new three-year Shanghai environmental plan.
Among the highlights that you might not read elsewhere:
- The plan will invest 80 percent more than previous plans (40 billion RMB) on over 260 environmental projects
- The central government will foot “60-70 percent or more” of the bill
- The city will soon be able to treat 75 percent or more of its sewage
- CO2 emissions will be reduced by 170,000 tons.
- Per capita green space will reach 12.5 square meters, or 38 percent of the city
- Forest coverage will reach 13 percent (though they didn’t say if this includes Chongming Island, which will reach 50 percent forest coverage)
- Minhang District will become an “advanced ecology area”
- Fifteen percent of Shanghai’s outlying towns will “become places that inspire a sense of joy”
- Shanghai’s environmental safety monitoring process will “get closer to perfection”
- Shanghai’s air quality will be stabilized at acceptable levels for 85% of the time
This announcement comes on the heels of new national legislation aimed at cleaning up the country as a whole. As printed by the Associated Press, the new environmental laws mandate that:
“Leading officials and other relevant government officials will be punished for making wrong decisions that cause serious environmental accidents and for gravely obstructing environmental law enforcement.”
According to state media:
“The move is aimed at protecting the long-term interests of the Chinese nation and leaving a good living and development space for our offspring.”
If the recently-completed six-year project to clean up Northern Shanghai’s Wusong Industrial Zone is any sign of things to come, Shanghai and the rest of the country should be able to combine environmental clean-up without sacrificing economic output.
It’s about time! While it’s sometimes sad to see Shikumen and other Shanghainese wonders get torn down to build parks, Shanghaiist admits that being able to breathe is probably more important. Who knows? One day, your offspring may even be able to swim in the Huangpu River.