China Subnational Best Practices

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Hebei Province Clean Heating Project—In 2003, district heating represented about 5.3 to 6.1 of total coal consumption in China and in 2008, the heating sector consumed a total of 145.4 million tons of raw coal. With continued urbanization and rising levels of quality of life in China, the effort to minimize the carbon intensity of district heating is necessary for low-carbon development. Hebei is a northern province adjacent to Beijing, in which national law requires district heating due to cold climatic conditions. The province has previously received World Bank funding and support for initial district heating reform as requested by 2003 central government policies, and now continues further subprojects to improve efficiency and environmental performance. The recently approved, January 2016, Clean Heating Project aims to modernize heating systems in Chengde, Xingtai and Zhangjiakou municipalities and Pingshan County through improved heat metering to promote efficiency and conservation; developing the use of waste heat from power plants and industry, and; transitioning to alternative sources of energy, primarily natural gas. The modernizing efforts for district heating will strengthen heat supply security, reduce air pollution, and allow for greater flexibility in sourcing energy from renewables, including geothermal and biomass. Currently, coal remains the cheapest energy source, however, ground-source heat pumps and other alternatives are gaining dominance.



Tianjin Urban Transportation Improvement Project—Tianjin is a northern city adjacent to Beijing. As part of the greater Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Project, the urban transportation improvement project aims to provide greater public service transportation, as well as promoting walking and biking in the urban core, in order to make transportation in Tianjin greener and safer. Travel patterns by urban residents have changed as urbanization has led to greater urban sprawl and development of improved road infrastructure. By 2012, private car ownership had reached 1.9 million, representing a three-fold increase since 2006, and private motorized trips accounted for 15.6 percent of total trips. The bike mode share in Tianjin dropped by 15 percent during that same period. As a result, congestion has worsened and heavy pollution plagues the city with about 66 percent of days with below-standard air quality.

The Tianjin Urban Transport Improvement Project is comprised of five main components:

1.    Redevelopment of streetscapes in Heping and Nankai districts, including pedestrian and bike networks
2.    Improving metro access through interconnection facilities, such as bike parking, bus connection, park and ride, etc.
3.    Launching a public bike sharing system pilot in the core urban area
4.    Development of a bus infrastructure, including parking, bus stops, lines, etc.
5.    World Bank technical assistance for sustainable green urban transport development:

Ningbo—Ningbo is a fast-growing port city in northeast Zhejiang province. The Ningbo Sustainable Urbanization Development Project follows an overarching eco-city, low-carbon framework aiming to improve the use of urban public space, mobility and reduce flood risk for particularly susceptible Ningbo counties. The project was approved in July, 2016 with a completion date in 2021, and is comprised of three main components:

1.    Urban regeneration by salvaging built assets and conserving embodied energy in existing buildings, as well as creating a higher quality, vibrant urban core that promotes greater urban facilities and prevents sprawl.
2.    Urban transportation to improve mobility within the urban network by enhancing transport capacity, reliability and service quality.
3.    Flood risk management through a decentralized approach, in which vulnerable counties will implement measures to their specific threats.

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Promotion of Clean and Low Carbon Cities (China)—China’s cities continue to absorb about 13 million rural residents each year. This rapid urbanization coupled with high economic growth and growing purchasing power, has put tremendous pressure on all forms of public services, including energy, housing, transport, and waste. Recognizing this mounting challenge, China’s cities have launched eco-city and low-carbon city initiatives. In fact, over 80% of all prefecture-level cities in the country have launched at least one eco-city project. A trend that has been largely supported by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) who officially announced, in 2012, that eight cities and several areas in five provinces would pilot low-carbon growth under national government guidance. Other cities have begun the initiatives independently thanks to China’s decentralized governmental structure that gives cities a high level of autonomy in political, financial and administrative matters. Municipal governments have demonstrated a desire for low-carbon transformations, understanding that such policies support the creation of livable, efficient, competitive, and sustainable urban areas. Outlined are three examples of projects that have been implemented under the overarching goal of developing a low-carbon framework.


The National Development and Reform Commission is an ‘inter-ministerial’ organization launched in 1998, in charge of establishing ands implementing national economic and social development strategies, including climate action and environmental frameworks for provinces and cities alike.

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