Four postdoctoral researchers from China's prestigious Peking University, who are specialized in the field of low carbon economy, share their perspectives on building low-carbon cities. They are Dr Li Jinbing, Dr Liang Shengping, Dr Tian Huimin and Dr Wu Zhenghong.

Part I: The idea of 'Smart New City'

Part II: China in critical period of low carbon development

Part III: Sound motivating mechanism needed

Jointly presented by and

Part I

Host: Hello, everyone. The upcoming “Two Sessions” (the annual meetings of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC) will not only describe the achievements China realized last year, but also look at the future. The year 2011 marks the beginning of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), an important period for China’s economic restructuring.

Our program “Dialogue: Cities on Low Carbon Road” will continue our discussion on the role of cities in economic development and how to build a low carbon city.

Our guests today are four postdoctoral researchers from Peking University. They are Dr Li Jinbing from the National School of Development, Dr Tian Huimin from the Guanghua School of Management, Dr Liang Shengping from the School of Government and Dr Wu Zhenghong from the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences. We will ask each of them to introduce their research fields. Let’s start with Dr Li Jinbing.

Li: Hello, I’m Li Jinbing from the National Policy Lab of the National School of Development at Peking University. My field is low carbon city systems and low carbon economy policy experiments. My postdoctoral research mainly focuses on city system modeling, including subsystems of resources, energy, life, production, transportation, construction and so on.

Host: Dr Liang Shengping, please.

Liang: Hello, I’m from the School of Government at Peking University. My field is urban and regional planning, which is research on low carbon cities from aspects such as strategy, industry, overall development and planning controls. Thank you.

Host: Dr Wu Zhenghong, please.

Wu: Hello, I’m from the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences of Peking University. My name is Wu Zhenghong. My research is on real estate development and policy, land use and urban and rural sustainable development. A low carbon economy and green economy are important topics today, since they are in accordance with real estate development. My personal interest also is this topic, so I’m happy to be here to discuss this issue, thank you.

Host: Dr Tian Huimin, please.

Tian: Hello, everyone. I’m Tian Huimin from the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University. My research field is the private-sector economy, financial capital and low carbon economy. My previous work was on capital operations, namely, how to utilize private enterprises and private capital to drive local industry development. As for a low carbon economy, I have done some research on it, and participated in some urban planning work. Thank you!

Host: We all know that our world is becoming smaller as well as warmer because of globalization. Within this context, the basic principle of economics requires city planners to accomplish more with fewer resources. China launched a national low carbon pilot program in five provinces and eight cities in August. What result has the program achieved so far? Let’s invite Dr Li Jinbing to give us a brief introduction.

Li: Ok, thank you. Last year, China launched its national low carbon pilot program, showing that the country attaches great importance to low carbon city construction. At present, the governments of these provinces and cities, as well as local enterprises and the public, are making efforts to build low carbon cities. But due to technology limitations,we are still looking for the right way to realize this goal. From a macro perspective, I personally think the task should be carried out inform a system perspective. I did some research on it and built the low carbon city system modeling, so I will talk about the modeling. The modeling consists of three parts: basic low carbon, supportive low carbon and organization low carbon. Basic low carbon includes a natural resource system and energy system, a supportive low carbon includes a discharge system, and a low carbon technology and policy system and organization includes financial system, construction system, government autonomous system, urban system, life system, production system and transportation system. I hope my research can be of some help to those pilot provinces and cities, thank you.

Host: Developing a low carbon economy is not the sole responsibility of city governors. Enterprises also made some efforts in this aspect, and they start even earlier. Here we have a case of China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co. The company transformed its global supply chain to intensive management, reducing the number of distribution centers from 100 to 40. In the past year, its carbon reduction totaled 10 tons. How can the work of such enterprises inspire municipal governors? And in terms of running a city, what is the general direction to take in developing a low carbon city? We’d like to invite Dr Liang Shengping to talk about how to conduct urban planning from a low carbon perspective.

Liang: Thank you. My research on low carbon urban planning is mainly from an urban morphology. Our Urban and Regional Planning Center has proposed a new concept called “Smart New City”. Here, we have several key points, I think the theme is: “Planning comes first, and smart is the soul.” In my opinion, the theme is the linking point of building a smart city and building a low carbon city.

First, many experts are talking about the conflict between economic development and low carbon from different perspectives. Our cities are developing at high speeds, but the speed also brings in the problems of high energy consumption and emissions. At the same time, in view of long term development, the nation requires low carbon and green development in urban planning. So the conflict exists, and it is a phased-in conflict. The above is the general background. Second, many cities in our country also have proposed the concept of a “Smart City ”, including cities such as Guangzhou, Foshan and Shenzhen, and cities such as Beijing also raised similar requirements.

Some have proposed the concept of four “’zations”: urbanization, information-ization, industrialization and internationalization. At present there is a strategic goal entitled “Integration of Four ‘Zations: Smart City.” I think the strategy is very good , since it can help solve the current conflict. Third is the realization of a “smart city.” One key point of my research is the realization of a “smart city” starting from a concept that belongs to urban morphology, namely, urban planning. In this aspect we now talk about “one core with multiple points.” “One core” means the smart core, which serves as an explosive point, and “multiple points” means supportive factors such as technology, entertainment and smart living spaces, etc. I think it is very good that a city must have a “core,” and the “smart core” can drive the realization of city planning. Fourth, there is the issue of the guarantee measures of a low carbon city. Following the completion of city planning, one important point is implementing the guarantee measures. I am working on several projects and have gained some experience. One is the green eco-system, which I think needs to be solved first in terms of urban morphology, especially in a low carbon city. Second is the city function, and third is the urban low carbon lifestyle. There also are the factors of government administration, economic instruments, diversity, legal systems, management and so on. These are all basic measures to guarantee low carbon city development. What I said above are the concepts linking the idea of a “Smart New City” and the low carbon city.

Talking with PKU economists (Part II): China in critical period of low carbon development

Talking with PKU economists (Part III): Sound motivating mechanism needed

Quotable Quotes
Liu Tongbo
I think Beijing should also develop more bicycle lines. This is a good way to improve the traffic and the air quality.

Cai Guoxiong
It doesn't mean reducing electricity usage is equal to the energy saving.

Mao Yushi
China's energy price is now low compared with energy prices in other countries. So people have no initiative to save energy, but to use energy regardless of the price.

Wu Zhenghong
The building of low carbon economy should also start with educating the next generation.

Tomas Anker Christensen
I think the biggest challenge that we have globally right now, is that the cost of producing wind energy is still much higher than the cost of producing energy through coal.

Ragnar Baldursson
We have the aim of increasing the space heating in all over China in the coming five years. So that's why Iceland will be participating in the new Five-Year Plan for China.

Tomas Anker Christensen: The Danish model of low-carbon cities (I)
Tomas Anker Christensen: China is setting a good example (II)
'Environment, or GDP, we have to make the choice'
Iceland targets China's geothermal energy market