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A green marvel

From sustainable transportation to recycling innovations, uncover how a Chinese city’s green initiatives are reshaping the community’s environmental and economic landscape

JINAN, CHINA (ANN/THE CHINA DAILY) – In the bustling city of Jinan, located in Shandong province, China, Hou, a woman in her thirties, has found a convenient and rewarding way to embrace eco-friendly living.

She engages with the Tanhui Qilu app on her mobile phone, an innovation that was introduced as part of Shandong’s broader efforts to encourage environmental consciousness among the public, communities, and businesses.

Through this app, Hou meticulously tracks her carbon reduction journey and over the past two months, she has earned a respectable amount of CNY255 (USD35) by selling recyclable items.

Hou, who chose not to give her last name, said the app makes it easier to embrace a green lifestyle. “The ‘carbon-inclusive’ house where I can sell recyclable waste is the part I like the best,” she said. “It’s a convenient way to deal with waste.”

To minimise her environmental impact, Hou diligently opts for eco-friendly transportation methods like walking or taking buses. Additionally, she actively participates in the recycling movement by selling items such as cardboard cartons, plastic, and clothing through the platform.

Hundreds of solar panels of a photovoltaic plant float on a reservoir in Liaocheng, Shandong province. PHOTO: ANN/CHINA DAILY

Thanks to her consistent efforts, the  informs her that she has successfully decreased her carbon dioxide emissions by an impressive 572 kilograms over the past five months.

Over the past five months, she has managed to reduce her carbon dioxide emissions by 572 kilograms, the app tells her.

Hou has earned 252 carbon credits by engaging in low-carbon activities and answering questions related to carbon emissions. These credits can be exchanged for tickets to scenic spots and to pay for hotel rooms.

“The carbon-inclusive platform encourages public participation in energy-saving and carbon emission-reduction actions, promoting sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyles,” said Wu Hongyang, director of the climate change response office of Shandong’s Department of Ecology and Environment.

It also plays a crucial role in leading Shandong toward green, low-carbon, and high-quality development, he added.

Since China set the goals of peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060, green and low-carbon concepts and innovations have been applied in people’s daily activities and industrial sectors.

River course

Shandong has also ramped up its efforts on green development in various sectors from grassroots initiatives to provincial-level projects, and established a pilot zone for green, low-carbon and high-quality development, the first of its kind in the country.

One major achievement is the restoration of the ecological environment of the Yellow River estuary in Dongying, where the waterway flows into the sea.

After three decades, the Yellow River knife fish has been spotted again, thanks to continuous efforts to restore the ecological balance in the area, according to Shandong’s ecology and environment department.

The knife fish is a rare species that mainly lives in the lower reaches of the river. Due to overfishing and the low water runoff in the river basin, the knife fish population has been declining since the 1990s.

A fisherman checks buoys made from eco-friendly materials that pose no harm to the ocean environment, at an aquaculture farm in Rongcheng city, Shandong province. PHOTO: ANN/THE CHINA DAILY

Measures to restore the delta’s ecological system have been taken in recent years, which are in line with the national strategy of promoting ecological conservation and the high-quality development of the Yellow River Basin.

A state-of-the-art ecological monitoring facility has also been set up in the delta to manage data on meteorology, water and soil quality, and marine life.

The restored ecological system has benefited residents living near the Yellow River who are eyeing tourism opportunities. In Yangmiao, Kenli district, Dongying, next to the river new residential buildings sit in neat rows.

The community provides convenient services, including a seniors’ canteen, kindergarten, clinic, and fitness room.

In addition, 140 old houses are due to be renovated and upgraded in two phases, in a bid to create a rural tourism destination.

Higher goals

In the mountainous areas of Shandong, the promotion of ecological conservation has enhanced the development of the agriculture and tourism industries.

In Mengyin county, Linyi, known for its hilly, wooded terrain, the promotion of ecological conservation has aided the peach-growing industry, providing livelihoods for more than 100,000 farmers, said the county government.

The county has a rich ecological system, with 73 per cent of its area covered by forests and a diverse range of plant and animal species. Its natural beauty has attracted tourists, who visit during peach blossom season and contribute to the local economy.

In Xizhaojiazhuang village in Lanshan district, Rizhao, what was once a putrid eyesore has been turned into a garden landscape.

Red-crowned cranes roost in the wetlands of the Yellow River estuary in Dongying, Shandong. PHOTO: ANN/THE CHINA DAILY

The village had struggled with sewage issues related to livestock farming and domestic waste. To address the problem, a sewage treatment station was constructed and a network of pipes installed to centrally treat sewage from every household.

“The treated water meets standards and can be used to create wetland landscapes and irrigate farmland,” said Li Xilin, the party secretary of the village.

With the sewage problem addressed, the village upgraded and renovated the area surrounding the pond, with trees and flowers planted to transform the once dank, polluted area into a garden.

In addition, the villagers have established tea gardens so tourists can experience picking leaves.