Green development gains steam in Huzhou

Huzhou in East China’s Zhejiang province is renowned as one of the frontrunners in nation's sustainability drive. The city has gone to great lengths to reduce pollution while promoting a sustainable lifestyle among the people.

 A view of Huzhou, East China’s Zhejiang province. [Photo/VCG]

Huzhou in East China’s Zhejiang province is renowned as one of the frontrunners in China's sustainability drive. Such is its reputation that it was even chosen as the host venue for the 2022 China Green Low Carbon Innovation Conference held in August. 

Minimizing pollution

Huzhou is among the first cities in China to pilot the Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP) accounting system. Factors including resource consumption, environmental damage and ecological benefits have been included in the city's social and economic development appraisal system.

The city government has also gone to great lengths to reduce pollution while promoting a sustainable lifestyle among the people to support the nation's green transformation efforts.

In 2005, the Zhejiang government initiated a campaign to phase out polluting enterprises in sectors related to textiles, dyeing, printing and batteries. To date, about 3,000 such enterprises in Huzhou have been shut down.

In 2021, Huzhou unveiled a system which classifies companies related to metal smelting, textiles and other high energy consumption sectors according to their carbon emissions and output value. Companies can check which of the five grades they belong to by scanning a QR code. The system, which is the first of its kind in China, was later promoted across Zhejiang.

Presently, 3,800 companies above designated size in Huzhou and more than 5,000 enterprises of similar size in Zhejiang are using the system.

These concerted efforts to improve the environment in Huzhou have resulted in a significant reduction in air pollution - the PM2.5 concentration in the city's urban area dropped from 42 micrograms per cubic meter in 2017 to 25 micrograms per cubic meter in 2021.

Clean energy

Apart from tackling pollution, Huzhou authorities have also been actively improving the use of clean energies.

In Anji county, the combined installed capacity of the Changlongshan and Tianhuangping pumped-storage power stations now stands at 3.9 million kilowatts.

In Meishan town, Huzhou's Changxing county, a 35-kilometer conveyor belt - the longest of its kind in the world - now runs through the mountains, carrying cement clinkers to a nearby wharf. The conveyor belt, which is the first cross-provincial logistics project in China that is completely powered by electricity, reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 8,566.8 metric tons per year.

Efforts have also been made to facilitate the replacement of diesel with electricity at ports in the city. In 2017, the city rolled out the nation's first construction plan for shore power facilities at inland river ports.

So impressive are Huzhou's endeavors that a documentary showcasing its achievements in green port development was aired at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP 26, in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021.

Other decarbonization practices taken by Huzhou include the establishment of a trading platform in Anji county that allows enterprises and farmers to redeem rewards for planting bamboo, which is considered an effective carbon sink and important nature-based approach to mitigating global warming.

The platform is the first of its kind set up by a county in the nation. To date, the platform has completed transactions for the storage of 25,000 metric tons of carbon from bamboo and its products.

Getting the masses involved

Furthermore, the local government has taken steps to encourage both enterprises and individuals to get involved in its decarbonization drive.

For example, car owners now stand to earn a discount on car premiums if they drive less, while enterprises can apply for loan interest discounts for purposes related to green manufacturing.

Due to the relentless efforts to champion garbage sorting, Huzhou has been ranked first in Zhejiang in terms of the promotion of household garbage sorting thrice.

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