By Julia Hurst
Environmentally responsible urban and rural development is a challenge.
And that’s not just true in the United States. Many other nations around the world face that same challenge, as five lieutenant governors found out in October during a trip to China as part of a National Lieutenant Governors Association economic development and humanitarian mission.
China Housing Vice Minister Dr. Qiu Baoxing said China needs to build housing and infrastructure for its growing population of more than 1.3 billion people and to maintain an expressway second in length only to one in the U.S.
Development of walkable cities, public transit and green buildings are keys to future plans, Baoxing told lieutenant governors from Alabama, Connecticut, Kansas, Nevada and Wisconsin. He also said that China will need technical support, financial support and human capacity to learn quickly how to complete urban and rural development correctly.
“Clearly our destinies are linked and we should work actively on these issues,” said NLGA Chair Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton.
China is the second largest consumer of energy in the world—behind the United States—with a projected growth rate in use of 6 percent annually. Most power in China comes from coal. Power generation in China is not enough for the country’s growth and the area has rolling blackouts, according to Mark Douglas vice president of Rohm & Haas, specialty material company based in Pennsylvania with facilities in China.
Baoxing said environmental aspects of China’s future energy and development plans will rely more on conservation efforts than the methods of power generation. Areas of China currently power down public buildings in non-peak hours, auction automobile license plates and allow only cars with a license plate ending in an even or odd number to be on the road on certain days of the week.
In many hotels, the room key must be inserted into a primary outlet to activate room electric. The lieutenant governors experienced one aspect of China’s power infrastructure: They rode the Shanghai Maglev Train, a magnetic levitation railway that reaches a speed of more than 280 miles per hour.
—Julia Hurst is the executive director of the National Lieutenant Governors Association, a CSG affiliate.