China Building Green City on Island Near Shanghai

While the Chinese government has never been known for its environmental consideration, a new city springing up there on an island in the mouth of the Yangtze River may start to change all of that. Bulldozers have already broken ground on Chongming, where China is constructing an earth-friendly city from scratch catering to the overflowing masses from nearby Shanghai as well as those displaced by the massive and ongoing Three Gorges dam project.

Many of the details about Chongming’s purported environmentally friendly features are not yet known, but include the proposition to only allow electric cars onto the island. Meanwhile, construction in the new city will have to meet sustainability standards. And the wetlands around the island’s perimeter, still teeming with wildlife, will be protected by a five-kilometer wide buffer zone comprising around 30 percent of the new city’s proposed land mass.

Meanwhile, many analysts remain skeptical about China’s ability to follow through on its green plans for Chongming. After all, 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in China, and continuing pressure to develop may only make matters worse. Even on Chongming, long a sleepy backwater where farmers still get around the island’s dirt roads via donkey carts, wetlands and the wildlife species that thrive in such environments have been quickly disappearing. Nevertheless, the same skeptics are hoping that the planned sustainable city on Chongming is a harbinger for greener things to come within the world’s most populous nation.