Asia is rapidly emerging as the leading continent for advanced green technologies. Three countries – each with different focuses – offer the rest of the world learning opportunities.
Asia is home to the fastest-growing cities in the world, with 53 per cent of the world’s urban population living within the region. That number is only set to grow. By 2030, Asia alone will house more than 20 megacities.
This rapid growth in urbanisation presents enormous environmental challenges. Many of the megacities in Asia experience air and water pollution or deeply congested and chaotic traffic, among other problems.
It’s clear that as Asia continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, taking steps to ensure that it develops in an eco-friendly way is crucial to maintaining a good quality of life for all. Fortunately, the sustainable movement is already underway.
The following countries are setting an example that the rest of the world can take a few notes from.
Singapore: Building a greener urban landscape
Singapore is often held up as a case study for exemplary sustainable housing development. With a population of 5.6 million and a mere 719km in land area, the city-state is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Yet it’s also one of the greenest – ranked second in the world on the 2016 Sustainable Cities Index – and this is due in no small part to its green buildings.
According to a 2016 report, Singapore has the highest level of green building involvement among the 69 countries surveyed. The number of green buildings in the country has leapt from 17 in 2005 to more than 2500 in 2015. The government has also stated its goal of greening 80 per cent of its existing buildings by 2030, as well as lowering energy consumption in buildings by 35 per cent from the 2005 level.
South Korea: A champion of eco-friendly commuting
The 2016 Bloomberg Innovation Index ranked South Korea second in the world for high-tech density, which comes as no surprise when considering how the country plays a leading role in low-carbon development in Asia through modern technology.
Seoul, the capital city, has an advanced technological infrastructure that helps promote eco-friendly lifestyles for residents. An extensive high-speed internet network, sensors and location-based services allow any device to access information from the Personal Travel Assistant (PTA) system.
The PTA service delivers information about public transportation in real-time, advising commuters about routes with the least amount of carbon emissions, options for greener transportation and more. Commuters can also use the PTA to view the carbon footprint of their travelling.
China: Empowered by renewable energy
China may be known for its hazardous environmental conditions, but over the last decade, the country has made great strides in responding to its pollution crises, particularly through its commitment to clean energy.
China is currently the world’s leading investor in renewable energy, having spent US$103 billion on renewables – or 36 per cent of the global total – in 2015 alone. That amounts to more than the total investments made by the US (US$44.1 billion), the UK (US$22.2 billion) and Japan (US$36.2 billion) in the same year.
The country installed half of the entire world’s new wind capacity in 2015, placing it firmly as the global leader in wind power. It has also surpassed Germany to become the country with the highest solar capacity in the world.
Countries such as Singapore, South Korea and China are steadily developing an expertise in different areas of green technology that their global neighbours can learn from. As Asia continues to experience unprecedented growth, the region appears ripe for breaking records in environmental gains.