Shanghai and Baoding have become the first cities to take part in a new WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) initiative to research less carbon-intensive paths to urban development in China, the international environmental organization said.
The Low Carbon City Initiative will initially focus on energy efficiency in buildings, renewable sources of energy and the manufacturing of energy-efficient products.
The participants plan to show how rapid economic growth and energy consumption can be separated in order to reduce the environmental effect of carbon dioxide emissions and growing energy consumption.
"Cities are an important part of China's economic development, but many face problems such as low energy efficiency and degraded environmental quality," Li Lin, head of conservation strategies at WWF-China, said.
"The Low Carbon City Initiative is about finding a sustainable development mode for China's urban areas through the study of energy production and usage patterns and developing new economic approaches for cleaner growth."
The WWF will collaborate with Shanghai in measuring energy use in selected public buildings such as offices, hotels and malls.
The data they gather will then be audited and made public, and training programs will be carried out to encourage energy efficiency in public buildings.
The WWF will also help conduct policy research to promote greener construction and set up demonstration projects in Shanghai.
In Baoding, a northern city about two hours' drive from Beijing, the WWF will support the design and implementation of sustainable development projects such as a solar energy demonstration city and a production base for renewable energy sources.
In addition, the group will support the creation of a network for information exchanges on policy matters, technology cooperation in the use of renewable energy, investment promotions and exports of renewable energy products.
The WWF will also promote clean development policies, demonstrate best practices and carry out energy-saving campaigns in other cities throughout China.
"Exploring the path to less carbon-intensive urban development is promising yet challenging, and requires more participation and support from governments, research institutes, companies and international organizations," Li Junfeng, deputy director of the Energy Research Institute at the National Development and Reform Commission, said.
"We hope the Low Carbon City Initiative will forge effective collaboration contributing to China's goal of reducing energy consumption by 20 percent between 2006 and 2010."