Songdo International Business District, South Korea
On the eve of G-20 meetings this week in the heart of the United States, the momentum of climate change leadership is ironically taking shape in Asia and Europe.
That is borne out by new announcements on smart, green city programs, as well as other major developments coming from China and South Korea leading up to December’s Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.
Before I get to the wired city news, some relevant signs from the tea leaves of Asian political leadership:
- China has stepped up to a leadership role on the road to Copenhagen, this according to the climate change chief of the United Nations. With China’s cities alone expected to account for a major portion of the world’s greenhouse gas increases over the next 20 years, such early-stage signals are monumental.
- South Korea has put forth a climate change mitigation scheme for developing nations that is being given serious consideration. It would set up a registry in developing nations, which South Korea is classified as, by which national emissions reductions can be measured against business-as-usual emissions.
Both China and South Korea are home to an emerging model of cities that are being planned with combined IT infrastructure and management systems that reduce carbon and resource use in construction, waste production, water and energy use, teleworking, transportation and mobility.
South Korea, in particular, is designing its national stimulus program and economic development strategy around the convergence of sustainability planning, IT innovation and energy usage.
It’s not surprising that South Korea’s largest development project, Songdo International Business District, optimizes low-carbon design with ubiquitous information technology.
In China, IBM announced last week an eco-city research center, which will feature a collaboration between the global technology provider and the national government on the latest IT-based water management systems and more.
China is also designing Eco City standards through its central government’s Ministry of Housing, Urban-Rural Development; it is looking to such planning and management systems that can scale up to meet 350-400 million more people that its cities will house by 2020. China is said to be looking beyond reducing carbon emissions and water use: it is taking into account other macro design factors such as as climate change adaptation, including natural disaster risk.
The developer of Korea’s Songdo, Gale International, and Cisco also announced last month an agreement with China to develop a city district in Changsha, Hunan Province.
Meanwhile, the European Union is not sitting idle when it comes to wiring its cities for sustainability. After hosting a “Green and Connected Cities” session before The European Union’s Committee of Regions last year (at which I addressed delegates), Europe announced last week it is putting significant investment into wiring and enabling 30 cities for advanced IT energy efficiency capabilities.
And the United States? Beyond Boulder, Colorado, which has recently implemented the model for the nation’s first Smart Grid-connected city, looks like we will be spending our days leading up to Copenhagen mired in a decades-old health care debate while the rest of world is shaping a future of innovation.