A Farsa da Cidade Ecológica

Fred Pearce, responsável pela coluna Greenwash do jornal The Guardian, escreve sobre a cidade ecológica de Dongtan, na China. O que foi dito que seria a primeira cidade ecológica do Planeta, não é nada disso, infelizmente. Vejam o texto abaixo.

Three years ago, I crossed the world to see it: the site for the world’s first eco-city. Shanghai, one of the fastest growing megacities on the planet, was setting aside a giant island in the Yangtze river to create an eco-city for half a million people.

British eco-engineers and green-minded architects and town planners were designing the renewably powered, car-free, water-recycling city of Dongtan as a model for the world. And its first 25,000 citizens would be living the good life there in time for the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, at which it would be by far the largest exhibit, reached by a new tunnel and bridge.

Well, it is now exactly a year until the start of the Expo. The tunnel and bridge are about to open. But of the eco-city there is nothing except half a dozen wind turbines and an organic farm. No houses, no water taxis, no sewage-recycling plant, no energy park. Nothing. And all mentioned of it has disappeared from the Expo website (slogan: “Better city; better life”).

This week, Peter Head, the man behind the project at the London-based consulting engineers Arup, who drew up the master plan, told me his clients at the city’s Shanghai Industrial Investment Company had “gone quiet. We just don’t know if anything will happen or when. The project office is shut.”

There is a persistent rumour that the project has been a casualty of the political fallout from the conviction of the city boss Chen Liangyu, jailed last year for corruption. Not so, says Head. The problems are more fundamental.

China does everything by the rules handed down from the top. There is a rule for everything. The width of roads, everything. That is how they have developed so fast, by being totally prescriptive. We wanted to change the rules in Dongtan, to do everything different. But when it comes to it, China cannot deliver that.”

It’s a bit like greening the planet. Lots of grand promises, but in the end the old entrenched ways mean little happens. Greenwash, in other words.

Shanghai milked the media well during the heyday of the planning. Searching for Dongtan on Google, there are around 177,000 hits. Almost all of them are built on a fiction: that the city fathers in Shanghai actually intended to do things differently on Chongming Island. That they really saw Arup’s expensively produced Dongtan masterplan as a blueprint for a more sustainable future. They didn’t. Not when it came to it.

Tony Blair signed the deal to design and build Dongtan with Chinese president Hu Jin-tao. His deputy, John Prescott, went there twice. So did Britain’s top urban planner, Peter Hall, and the London mayor Ken Livingstone, who wanted ideas for greening his urban landscape.

British academics carried out energy audits aimed at giving Dongtan’s future citizens an ecological footprint a quarter that of other Shanghai citizens.

But they and Arup were hoodwinked as much as anyone. People like Head, whose commitment to the project was total, could have been planning other things that might have got off the drawing board. Their time was wasted.

The SIIC director, Ma Cheng Liang, the man in charge of the project, told me in early 2006: “We need to reduce our ecological footprint. Dongtan is very significant for Shanghai and the nation.” He explained how, the Dongtan blueprint would prevent urban sprawling taking over the 100-kilometre long Chongming Island after the bridge was finished. “We want to skip traditional industrialisation in favour of ecological modernism. Dongtan is a chance to develop new ways of living.”

Did he ever mean it? I don’t know. Is it all over? Probably. With the new bridge providing easy access to Shanghai’s Pudong business district, the island’s western end, where Dongtan was planned, will soon be taken over by high-rise, high-footprint apartments. The first are already under construction.

We all wasted our time; burned carbon flying to Shanghai to relay a false prospectus to the world. If I sound bitter, I am. This time, I was a personal victim of greenwash.


3 Comentários »

  1. alice said

    Querido, estamos no Brasil.. seria mto bom se vc escrevesse EM PORTUGUÊS pelo menos as idéias principais.

  2. Me desculpe, Alice. Sei que é difícil para a grande maioria ler inglês, mas, como não tive tempo para traduzir o texto, fiquei pensando o que era melhor: não colocar um texto que julgo importante ou publicá-lo e pelo menos algumas pessoas teriam acesso a ele.

  3. André said

    Aprenda Inglês, não?!

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