As a political decision maker, the Chinese Minister of Natural Resources, Lu Hao, is at the centre of a great transformation of today’s China.Former Governor of Heilongjiang from 2013 to 2018, he was also First secretary of the Communist Youth League and later vice-mayor of Beijing.
also a full member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
(CPC), although he was born only in 1967, in Shanghai or probably in Xi’an.
effective political systems favour and foster the careers of the best young
President Xi Jinping has often pointed out, this is the right time for a
comprehensive and in-depth ecological analysis of Chinese development.
economic development of a country that initially hosted the “second processing
activities” of global economy was over, China is now getting ready to be a
large global economy, an advanced economy having no obligations towards “old”
technologies and markets – hence also fully ecological.
the 18thCPC Congress, President Xi Jinping has been vigorously supporting the
idea of a fully Chinese “ecological civilization” and certainly the choice of
Lu Hao as Minister of Natural Resources goes in this direction.
President Xi and Minister Lu Hao underline, now also soil erosion has become a
very severe phenomenon in China.
the annual soil erosion of both agricultural and non-agricultural land totals
approximately 5 billion tons.
currently down to agriculture in China is worth about a third of the available
desertification area is now equal to 2,622,000 square kilometres, i.e. 27.3% of
all the land surface available.
the many efforts made to reverse this trend – and not only recently -currently
China is the country with the lowest per capita share of forests in the world.
is still heavy, especially in the case of water, but President Xi (and Minister
Lu Hao) have quickly got to work.
Xi Jinping stated: “Clean waters and green mountains are as valuable as
mountains of gold and silver”.
President not only wants a high GDP, but above all a strong and stable “green”
First World markets pollute the Second but, above all, the Third World – and
today China is not Third World for anyone.
subject to pollution is like being subject to foreign powers.
President Hi Jinping’s fundamental idea is that protecting the environment and
increasing productivity are mutually reinforcing goals.
like Minister Lu Hao, President Xi Jinping believes that there is a scientific
and rational connection between environmental protection and economic
development and that the purpose of the CPC action is to enhance the people’s
quality of life and their happiness index.
President Xi Jinping’s fundamental idea is to strictly follow the scientific
and technological criteria, by increasing the use of natural resources and –
precisely for this reason – also developing the blue economy, while respecting
the objective laws of nature and, hence, also the laws of socialist and
rational economic development.
18th CPC Congress, President Xi Jinping – and certainly also Minister Lu Hao –
spoke of building a “beautiful China”.
written in the documents of the 18th CPC Congress, “To meet the people’s desire
for a better life is our mission” – hence President Xi Jinping (and Minister Lu
Hao) maintain that “building an ecological society and civilization, which is
connected to the people’s well-being, is our goal and the true future for the
Xi Jinping’s policy line is – first and foremost – to “first protect, then
scientifically demarcate the use and protection of nature, and later adhere to
the red line of environmental and ecological protection”.
primary concept is “protection first”.
industrialist and productivist criterion, whereby “merely keeping pollution
under control” is enough, is now meaningless.
whoever is in charge of the area where pollution has occurred must be
considered – to all intents and purposes – liable both legally and practically.
that every year at least eight million tons of plastic are thrown into the
oceans, and over half of this quantity comes from five Asian countries: China,
Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
problem can be slowly solved with better collection, wider information and what
President Xi Jinping precisely calls “ecological civilization”.
Furthermore, as early as 2017 China has begun
its “action against air pollution, with the closure of over 150 coal-fired
steel factories to reduce particulate matter in the air by at least 15% a year.
Again as from 2017, China has already achieved
the 2020 target for the use of solar energy, with the even more ambitious goal
of soon reaching the production level of 213 GW, five times higher than the
current US annual production.
the current technology data, it is like covering – only with solar panels – a
surface larger than the Greater London area, namely 1,500 square kilometres.
also thanks to Minister Lu Hao’s action, in 2019 China rose from the 41stto the
33rd place in the world list of nations that are actively involved in climate
leap forward, although the greenhouse gas emissions increased in China both in
2017 and in 2019.
however, can currently meet the Paris Agreement criteria by stopping its
greenhouse gas emissions within 2030, but only by increasing its renewable
energy production by 20% and by using greater nuclear energy sources – a policy
of which little is still said in the silly West.
tripling the share of non-fossil fuels by the end of 2030 and establish a full
market for Chinese emission trading.
If – as
is very likely thanks to President Xi Jinping and Minister Lu Hao – China
manages to do so, the global project to reduce the global temperature increase
to “much less” than two degrees Celsius will be successful.
therefore fundamental for the ecology of the whole planet.
China plans to increase the area of forests absorbing carbon dioxide by 45,000
square kilometres and it is slowly succeeding in reaching this goal, also
thanks to the organization of natural parks, considering that China currently
has over 12,000 perfectly organized natural parks and reserves.
a public health problem adding to the challenges outlined so far.
about 2.8 million children -mainly newborn babies – die due to
If we do
not want to change the balance between generations – and certainly President Xi
Jinping and Minsiter Lu Hao are very careful not to do so – the pollution issue
think about the retirement, employment and demographic transition between
generations, with a burden of newborns’ deaths equal to 2.8 million a year.
Chinese Climate and Ecological Policy System introduced in 2017, which Minister
Lu Hao is greatly expanding, also provides for the careful monitoring of over
1,700 energy-producing companies and for the further final control of over
three billion tons of greenhouse gases.
of China is still an outstanding issue and has led the country to have – in
spite of everything – as many as 10 billion tons of CO2 released into the
environment – about a quarter of the world total amount.
In any case, however, they are less than 23%
compared to the Chinese CO2 production in the previous year.
water pollution, the State will spend as much as 30 billion for “cleaning” and
purifying springs and water flows.
will also improve its basic price system, with a view to fostering environmental
protection and rural areas – a policy
for the total cleaning of urban water and major springs, organized by Minister
Lu Hao and supported by President Xi Jinping.
first goal is to purify urban waste water, the major source of stable pollution
of springs. Then China plans to “ecologizing” the Yangtze River and Lake Bohai,
two other water flows that affect China’s whole rural and urban water system.
project, however, will be completed and the cleaning of the big rivers and
major water basins and reservoirs will go ahead.
a project to reduce the use of industrial water by 23% within 2020, when the
first large national share of renewable energy will be massively used in China.
on the “prevention of soil and water pollution” entered into force on January
1, 2019, but it also provides for the census-taking of all Chinese land – to be
carried out every ten years – as well as the establishment of monitoring
stations everywhere – with data that can be spread at every level – and also
the checking of toxic and noxious substances in soils and waters, with data
that must become public – at least partially. It finally provides for the creation
of funds for cleaning land and water, which every local and regional authority
must envisage in the budget.
systems” for polluting agricultural or industrial companies are planned.
specific reference to the desalination of sea water for industrial and human
use, it should immediately be noted that China is one of the 13 countries with
the lowest water availability in the world.
most water resources are concentrated in the South, while Northern and Western
regions tend to suffer from drought.
President Xi Jinping and Minister Lu Hao point out, population growth, mass
urbanization, climate change and gradual reduction of water reserves are all
conditions that make the water issue crucial for continuing China’s economic
addition to reorganizing national water reserves – as can be seen in projects
such as the Diversion of Northern Waters – water is never really sufficient
and, hence, the other fundamental issue of President Xi Jinping’s and Minister
Lu Hao’s water scheme is desalination and the recycling-purification of waste
real problem is desalination, considering that 43% of the Chinese population
lives in the 11 coastal provinces, which anyway account for 13.7% of the
coastal areas, however, the water supply is even lower than the national
coastal areas account for over 65% of China’s national GDP.
the water resources of China’s coastal areas are only about 28% of the total
desalination is a solution.
over 150 countries use this system.
Moreover, China’s desalination project has
lasted for at least 60 years.
however, after a series of regional and sectoral attempts, a real desalination
industry has developed in the Hebei Province, as early as the first project in
Datang Wangtang in 2005.
specific membrane technology is already well- developed, but also
microfiltration is available – with a national production exceeding 10,000
square metres per day for each of the approximately 150 plants, but with
additional 71 sea desalination plants, operating at a reduced pace, and with
35% of the total water resources used for people’s personal use.
of water resources, however, is used for energy production and for other
industrial uses, including paper and metal production.
desalination plants are mainly located in four regions, namely Zhejiang,
Shandong, Liaoning and Hainan.
technologies are Reverse Osmosis (RO) with UF (Ultra Filtration) membranes and
Multi-Effect Distillation (MED), which is thermal desalination.
China, 120 are RO plants and 7 are the largest ones with MED technology.
regard to soil protection, it has been ascertained that 402 industrial sites
and 1,401 agricultural areas record a high concentration of heavy metals.
agricultural areas and 28% of industrial sites are contaminated.
the regulations carefully and made them even stricter in 2016, but the final
regulatory framework was designed in August 2018.
already seen, the criterion used is prevention.
relevant authorities must therefore evaluate each project ecologically, before
lays down each party’s responsibility, with a sequence of obligations no one
the real problem in China is the relationship between arable land and urban
buildings have reduced the area down to agriculture by almost 60% compared to
2.47 million hectares – equivalent to the
surface of the US State of Vermont – were reclaimed on the basis of the new
legislation on the rebalancing between agricultural land and housing areas.
only 37% of the land reclaimed on the basis of this legislation is reused for
agricultural purposes, while 44% remains merely unploughed land and 19% becomes
the climate and bio-chemical change of soils is often at the basis of China’s
great internal migrations, which are a further structural distortion of an
already anomalous – and now stable-concentration of people from internal
towards coastal areas.
to the 2016 data, the Four Modernizations and the subsequent reforms pushed
over 200 million migrants to the Chinese coasts.
future, however, the real core of the issue for China will be harvesting
electric power from the dynamics of ocean wave movements.
energy market analysts believe that the market for this type of electricity
will increase by 10.25% a year until 2023.
market is expanding especially in Europe, which was the first continent to
develop this technology, but now the idea has spread to the United States,
Australia and, above all,China.
there is a device available for harnessing the power of ocean waves known as
“Penguin”, which is moored to the seabed at 50 metres depth. Only 2 meters are
visible above the sea water surface.
1,600 ton device is around 30 m long.
manufactured by a Finnish company.
for producing wave-based energy -with an average capacity of 40 MW – are
already available in the Caribbean, Antigua, Bermuda and Curaçao, through a
mechanism that will be operational in late 2019.
also the microgrid technology is available, i.e. a mix of energy sources, users
and storage systems that, in this case, combines solar sources with those from
the ocean wave cycle, as currently happens off the Australian coast.
the energy available from waves, and hence from tides, is 8.2 GW for the whole
It is a huge amount.
research for this type of technology is currently based on a vertical turbine,
developed by the Harbin University, as well as on a horizontal axis turbine,
studied by the University of Zhejiang, and on other prototypes.
the potential energy available from the Chinese wave cycle is probably much
greater than expected – by over 25% – and this does not regard the technologies
currently applied, but the physical potential of wave movements, which can be
as the 1970s China has developed this sector, starting from Jangxia (3900 Kw),
and later in the regions of Bachimen, Shandong and Maluan Bay, which are
already active only partly.
have also been attempts – far from useless – to produce energy from the sea
are the structural limits of the Chinese marine renewable energy project?
general terms, a certain and stable lack of investment in the sector, which
enables Western technologies to evolve more rapidly and, above all, more
suitably for the future massive consumption of “sea wave-based” energy.
We also need to consider the nature of places
on the Chinese coast, with the spreading of typhoons and dangerous situations,
and finally the use of oceans for security, desalination or fishing operations.
today, a massive spreading of these wave-based energy technologies is needed,
as well as a common base between universities, government, local authorities,
Party and users to create a strong and stable market for this type of energy.
Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter (ISWEC) could be the solution.
It is a
device placed inside a float, with an operating criterion based on an inertial
system to exploit the sea wave movements to produce energy.
stability of the float and of the device is ensured by a gyroscopic inertial
system, which works when the hull oscillations caused by the movement of waves
induce the rotation of the gyroscope platform that is then converted into
electricity by the power generator.
additional aspect is that this system can be fine-tuned and adapted to the
changes in sea conditions, which allows to relate the frequency of maximum
productivity to the frequency of the incident wave.
is regulated by the spin engine of the gyroscope flywheel and by the real-time
dataon the area’s weather conditions.
also easily secure the system, if special sea conditions or other phenomena
of the float has dimensions of 8 m width, 15 m length and 4.5 m height, as well
as a draft of 4 metres.
gyroscopes inside the “buoy”, i.e. the floating positioning system, have an
installed electric power of 130 kW, as well as a sensor platform capable of
immediately collecting data from the local sensors, to be related to the remote
sensor data and the updated weather forecasts.
also predict the wave characteristics and finally generate the short-term
control signal for all the device operations and drives.
average annual productivity per each floating position system is 250 MWh, which
allows to save 68 tons of CO2 emissions each year, and the structure will
obviously occupy a sea area of approximately 150 square metres where fishing
will be forbidden.
device is the result of research carried out by the Polytechnic of Turin, developed
by a spin off and put into operation thanks to an agreement between ENI, CDP,
Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, Fincantieri and Terna.
Arthur Rimbaud wrote in one of his poems, “Eternity.
the sea mingled with the sun.”
Elia Valori: Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia
Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious
academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on
international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as
Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva
University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is
also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese
giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la
République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders
to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the
Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “