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UPDATED: June 11, 2012 NO. 24 JUNE 14, 2012
A New Green Plan
Foreign companies join in China's efforts to seek sustainable city development
By Liu Xinlian

GREEN CITY: Siemens presents its solutions to sustainable city development in China at the China International Green Industry Expo held in Beijing (CFP)

As the urban population surges, Chinese cities now face environment pollution, traffic jams, high energy consumption, high carbon emission and other pressures.

At the end of 2011, China had 690.79 million people living in urban areas and 656.56 million in the countryside. For the first time, China's urban population surpassed that of rural areas after three decades of economic development encouraged farmers to seek better living standards in towns and cities.

"In view of China's ambitious plan to create a sustainable growth path for its cities, Siemens will play a key role in this emerging market and will grow strongly here by providing tailored and comprehensive solutions to improve the quality of life for its citizens," said Xiao Song, President of Siemens Infrastructure and Cities Sector North East Asia/ASEAN-Pacific at the UrbanTec China Conference 2012 in Beijing on May 30-31.

At the conference, Siemens presented its innovative concepts in sustainable city development and smart urban infrastructure construction.

"Through sustainable technology, we are committed to helping cities transform for the better of their citizens and businesses," Xiao said.

Urbanization challenges

China's rural population fell as a proportion of the nation's total to 48.7 percent in 2011 from 81 percent in 1979, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). That migration may continue for another few decades.

A World Bank report says there will be an estimated increase of 350 million urban residents in China over the next 20 years.

With more urbanization and industrialization ahead, China still needs investment to upgrade its industries and infrastructure, said Ma Jiantang, Commissioner of the NBS.

Vice Premier Li Keqiang said China will invest more than 5 trillion yuan ($795.5 billion) in energy-saving and environmental protection projects in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period at the EU-China Cooperation on Urbanization Forum held in Brussels on May 3.

More than 75 percent of the buildings in China's cities are not energy efficient and need urgent renovation, Li said.

In response to the growing demand for green urbanization in China, top world industrial conglomerates have proposed their own solutions for sustainable development.

IT industry giant IBM launched its Smarter Cities Challenge project, in which solutions for city management service, infrastructure service and human service were offered. IBM designed new operations centers for 30 demonstration cities around the world, coordinating various functions under one roof.

In February, the Caterpillar Foundation announced a five-year, $12.5-million grant to the World Resources Institute to advance progress of environmentally sustainable and livable cities in China, India and Brazil. Five cities were chosen to demonstrate how they can use "Avoid Shift and Improve" strategies to increase energy efficiency, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and improve water quality, urban mobility and land use.

Siemens also offers a comprehensive portfolio for urban infrastructure.

"The growth dynamics for sustainable development of infrastructure is still intact. We live in a world with high volatility, but the underlying dynamics is unchanged," said Peter Löscher, CEO of Siemens.

"Siemens is getting ready to share with Chinese cities our world-leading urban technologies and solutions and to build green cities for the new century," said Xiao.

Last October, Siemens signaled a strategic shift toward urban infrastructure and services with the creation of a fourth business arm in addition to industry, energy and healthcare. The new sector, with around 87,000 employees, comprises five divisions: rail systems (rolling stock), mobility and logistics (traffic, transport and logistics management), low and medium voltage, smart grid (intelligent power grids) and building technologies.

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