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UPDATED: October 15, 2014 NO. 38 SEPTEMBER 18, 2014
Sustainable In Seattle
Green issues are discussed as the Emerald City holds the first U.S.-hosted Boao Forum
By Huang Wei

Julio Friedmann, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal, Office of Fossil Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), stressed that the key of the shale gas revolution's success in the United States is entrepreneurship and the business model, in a sense echoing Zhang's sentiments.

"There are 3,000 companies involved in shale gas exploration. These are not Chevron or Exxon, but small and medium-sized companies that are innovative and enterprising," he said.

Friedmann maintained that the shale gas revolution makes LNG [liquefied natural gas] exports from the United States possible and opens space for China-U.S. cooperation in clean energy.

Xue Feng, General Manager of CEFC Shanghai Natural Gas Co. Ltd., expressed his concerns regarding the substantial energy cooperation between Asia and the United States.

"Asia is the fastest growing region in the global economy, which means it is also experiencing the world's fastest growth in energy demand," Xue said. He appealed to American local governments and businesses to push the U.S. Federal Government to relax current policy restrictions on exports of oil and gas, especially natural gas, in order to take the initiative in opening up the Asian gas market. "If not, Asia may turn to other regions in seeking out natural gas resources," he told Beijing Review.

Sumant Sinha, founding Chairman and CEO of ReNew Power Ventures, was optimistic about the development of renewable energy usage in India. He said the new Indian government is at present modifying laws to support the deve-lopment of clean energy, and pointed out that India has advantages in promoting clean and renewable energy.

"The opportunity cost of construction is still low in India, which is very propitious to the conduction of renewable or clean energy bases," he said.

Get smart

In the summer of 1981, David Sandalow made his first visit to Shanghai. There was no light at night as he flew upon the city, and his team was only able to find one solitary telephone line inside the city to connect back to the United States.

"Today, Shanghai is like 'Time Square times six'," he said. The former Under Secretary of the DOE conceded that great improvements had arisen from urbanization in major Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing, but he pointed out that the rapid urban development has also created serious problems relating to air pollution in the cities.

According to research from the McKinsey Global Institute, China and India are in the vanguard of a wave of urban expansion. By 2025, nearly 2.5 billion Asians will live in cities, accounting for almost 54 percent of the world's urban population. India and China alone will account for more than 62 percent of Asian urban population growth and 40 percent of global urban population growth from 2005 to 2025.

China is establishing green and environmentally friendly cities through the utilization of diverse means such as water and garbage recycling and public transportation, said Qiu Baoxing, former Vice Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. "At the same time, we want to maintain a certain level of population density for big cites, for example, 10,000 people to 1 square km [about 250 acres] to diminish the negative impact on the environment during the process of urbanization."

At a session titled Intelligent Cities and Sustainable Urban Living, Qiu said that an intelligent city is only a tool to reach the target of sustainable cities. "To achieve this target, there are three bottom lines: to develop a compact city; to maintain the diversity of cities form cultural, spatial and industrial perspectives; and to build cities that are livable for citizens."

Sean Chiao, CEO of Buildings + Place AECOM, argued that in order to achieve comprehensively developed and clean intelligent cities, the fundamental principle should circle back to the initial goals, touching on such issues as whether the city is pedestrian and cyclist friendly, or if it includes enough parks and open spaces, while keeping the ultimate goal of improving people's happiness index and the well-being of our future generations in mind.

"Getting growth right is so important if we want to create a sustainable future for ourselves," Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in his address at the opening ceremony, adding that growth without parks or a place to exercise will not lead to sustainable communities.

Murray announced that Seattle has been recognized as one of the most sustainable cities in 2014 in North America. And having been ranked one of the smartest cities on the continent in 2013 by Fast Company magazine, "Seattle has mandated a minimum LEED [Green Building Leadership] Silver Certificate for all municipal buildings over 5,000 square feet since 2002. A high rate of solid waste recycling as well as strong environmental governance show that the city is acting on its responsibility to future generations," Boyd Cohen, a climate strategist, wrote in an article on the magazine website.

"We hope to learn from other countries and to avoid making the same mistakes during the process of building cities with greater sustainability," Qiu said.

Zhou Wenzhong, Secretary General of the BFA, called for international cooperation in energy production and the sharing of information pertaining to new technologies. "Reducing carbon and lifting living standards are things we all need. To keep them in balance, we need to develop a comprehensive package of measures and to encourage transnational cooperation," he said in his closing remarks at the conference.

(Reporting from Seattle, the United States)

Email us at: huangwei@bjreview.com

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