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Projects show China's green gains

By Wang Xiaodong in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2023-06-08 09:18

Rural revitalization model could help achieve net-zero goals, report finds

Net-zero carbon emission is achievable in the development of rural areas, according to research released at the second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Tuesday.

The research, conducted in island villages in East China, could offer useful experiences for similar areas in the world to achieve low-carbon growth while developing rural areas, said researchers from Shanghai's Tongji University and UN-Habitat, who jointly released the report on Tuesday.

The report summarizes the method, process and progress of rural revitalization — a grand national strategy in China — with the goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions in Zhoushan city's Dinghai district in Zhejiang province.

Working with the local government, researchers from Tongji University conducted industrial surveys in 79 villages and formulated low-carbon development strategies in these rural areas, including developing low-carbon industries such as tourism and organic farming, better tapping into energy and resources, and promoting a low-carbon lifestyle. A total of 30 major projects featuring net-zero carbon emissions have been completed over the past three years.

"The construction of a net-zero carbon rural area in Dinghai is in line with its natural resource endowment, industrial structure characteristics and future development goals, while also reflecting China's determination to promote green transformation," Wu Jiang, president of the UNEP-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development at Tongji University and lead researcher of the report, said.

"The exploration and practice of a net-zero carbon development path have important reference and learning values for similar island regions around the world."

In recent years, low-carbon transformation in cities has gained much progress globally. But in many developing countries where rural areas are still home to large numbers of people, reducing carbon emissions to cope with climate change is still a big challenge, Wu said.

Low-carbon upgrade

In one of the net-zero emission projects listed in the report, the owner of a low-carbon farm in Dinghai took multiple measures to give the farm a green upgrade. These include applying double-layered insulated greenhouses, organic fertilizer composition that reduces the use of synthetic fertilizers, wastewater treatment and recycling, and using new energy transport vehicles.

Overall, these measures helped to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 85 metric tons a year, helping the farm to reach net-zero carbon emissions, said Wang Xin, deputy president of the UNEP-Tongji institute.

Li Zhe, deputy director-general of the Department of Planning, Financing and Foreign Affairs at China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said the urban and rural development in China is facing a comprehensive green transformation against the backdrop of climate change.

"In rural revitalization, efforts must also be made to accelerate the transformation and development toward green and low-carbon development," Li said, adding that the low-carbon transformation in Dinghai reflects China's determination to achieve green development goals in urban and rural areas.

Climate change is a global issue and mitigation efforts require the participation of all humanity. The cooperation with UN-Habitat has provided Dinghai an opportunity to realize the net-zero carbon target with a broader international domain, Li said.

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