Making Beijing a low-carbon ‘capital of biodiversity’

A meeting of Beijing Communist Party representatives on 27 June laid out focus areas for China’s capital to become a low-carbon city and “capital of biodiversity”.

A government report published during the meeting noted that while Beijing’s GDP has grown significantly over the past five years, carbon emissions have decreased, resulting in a reduction of GDP energy intensity of 24% since 2015. The sharp fall can be explained partly by the rise of the service sector and by Beijing’s removal of “non capital-city functions” from the economy. From 2015 to 2020, up to 2,000 companies engaged in traditional, energy-intensive industries were reportedly removed from the city.

The period also saw Beijing’s energy consumption shift towards gas and renewables. Coal’s proportion of energy consumption fell from 13% to just 1.5% and the city has a target to reduce annual coal consumption to under 100,000 tonnes by 2025.

The continued greening of the city is high on the agenda of the city’s leadership, who vowed to expand forest coverage to at least 45% over the next five years, up slightly from 44.6% in 2021, and build up Beijing’s biodiversity.

In an article in Beijing News, the city’s landscaping authority explained that Beijing plans to develop a system of biodiversity conservation policies, administration, standards and monitoring in the coming years. It will conduct a comprehensive assessment of Beijing’s biodiversity, as a “foundation of conservation.” It will also create 20 “wild belts” in Beijing’s numerous parks and 120 “biodiversity protection neighbourhoods”, where wildlife can find undisturbed habitats in the middle of this city of 25 million people.

Read more about Beijing’s surprising biodiversity on China Dialogue