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Shanghai: Environment at risk from rapidly rising population

Urbánní ekologie
Shanghai: Environment at risk from rapidly rising population

Shanghai's rapidly increasing population is a major challenge for the city's environment and may be too much for it to bear, a government report said yesterday.

Urbanization has resulted in problems such as inadequate land resources and air pollution in a city that already has 24 million permanent residents, according to the 2008-2012 Shanghai Natural Resources and Ecological Environment Statistics report.

Investment in environmental protection, however, has been lagging far behind economic development.

"Though the environmental protection fund has increased by 8 percent annually, its percentage of the city's GDP has been falling," the Shanghai Statistics Bureau said in the report.

Environmental protection investment accounted for 2.8 percent of the city's total output value in 2012, compared with 3 percent in 2008, the report said. It urged the city government to increase investment to curb environmental pollution since the city had paid a great price for its economic expansion.

Residents' satisfaction with their environment decreased by 4.7 percent in 2012 compared with that in previous years, the report said.

"Local residents have been suffering great disappointment after finding the environment failed to be improved after the city's hosting of the World Expo 2010," the report said.

The event was expected to greatly improve the city's environment and infrastructure with its theme of "Better City, Better Life."

Major disappointment

However, air pollution, especially the surging density of PM2.5, the tiny particles hazardous to health, has been a major disappointment.

Urbanization has also put pressure on the city's limited farmland. Agricultural land was less than 2,600 square kilometers by the end of 2012 and the area was continually decreasing along with urban development.

However, straw burning is still a problem, with the percentage of straw being properly treated decreasing by 3.8 percent in 2012 compared to 2011 as farmers continue to burn straw, a process that is part of the reason for the city's air quality problems.

The surging population has also resulted in an increase in the amount of daily waste water flowing into local rivers and creeks, the report said.

"The waste water from residents accounted for 7 percent of the city's total sewage discharge in 2012 and the percentage is still increasing," it said.

The report noted that more than half of Shanghai's rivers and lakes are heavily polluted and much of their soil beds seriously contaminated, according to the city's first water census in 2013.

Downstream Suzhou Creek and some small creeks in suburban areas are the worst polluted, with some of them black and foul-smelling.

Dianshan Lake, the city's biggest lake, is under threat from eutrophication and its water quality is worsening, according to the water authority.

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