* Lingshan Island in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao has become China's first carbon-negative sea island.
* The island has embraced green and low-carbon development by transforming the lifestyles of its residents and upgrading industries.
* As carbon reduction efforts deepen, the economic value of China's green endeavors will continue to expand.
by Xinhua writers Zhang Xinyi, Wang Kai, Li Baojie
JINAN, June 5 (Xinhua) -- From transforming farmland back into forests to adopting clean energy sources and establishing a "carbon credit bank," Lingshan Island in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao has launched an all-out war against carbon emissions.
These efforts have yielded remarkable results, positioning the island located in the West Coast New Area of Qingdao as China's first carbon-negative sea island, thereby, demonstrating the country's commitment to environmental sustainability.
This aerial photo taken on June 5, 2023 shows the Lingshan Island in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. (Xinhua/Li Ziheng)
China has set ambitious goals of achieving carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, taking a prominent role in the global fight against climate change.
BECOMING CARBON NEGATIVE
In recent years, Lingshan Island, home to more than 2,400 residents, has moved further in its green drive, pursuing clean energy transformation, sustainable production and an environmentally-friendly lifestyle.
As a result, the island has reduced its carbon emissions and created more carbon sinks. Its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions hit negative 1,333 tonnes in 2020, making it China's first carbon-negative sea island, according to China Quality Certification Center (CQC).
The milestone came following the decision of the West Coast New Area to build itself into a "dual carbon" demonstration zone in 2020, in response to the country's "dual carbon" goal. Lingshan Island was chosen as a pilot site after assessments, and the entire year of 2020 was set as the duration for carbon accounting.
"We conducted verification for over three months, assessing the entire production and life processes happening on the island, covering more than 2,000 residents and 73,000 tourists," said Li Jingzhe, an associate professor at Qingdao University of Science and Technology, who took part in the entire verification session.
Tourists visit the Lingshan Island in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, June 5, 2023. (Xinhua/Li Ziheng)
CQC has confirmed that Lingshan Island generated 5,668 tonnes of CO2 equivalent from energy consumption, agricultural activities, and waste management. The greenhouse gas removal from forest carbon sinks amounted to 7,001 tonnes. Therefore, the net CO2 emissions equivalent was negative 1,333 tonnes.
According to Li, the data is calculated by the most strict standard as there are no international standards for ocean carbon reduction. "If we had included blue carbon (carbon captured and stored by the oceans and coastal ecosystem), our data would have been much more impressive," Li said.
WHY THIS ISLAND?
The achievement stems from dedicated and unwavering efforts. In recent years, Lingshan Island has undergone a significant transformation, embracing green and low-carbon development by transforming the lifestyles of its residents and upgrading industries.
In 2020, the island launched an initiative to switch from coal to electricity for winter heating. Initially, residents, including Chen Gaofeng, expressed concerns about potential increases in bills.
Chen, however, decided to give it a try as the local government subsidized most of the purchases of electric heaters and their electricity bills. "As it turned out, the electric heater performed excellently, proving to be not only environmentally friendly but also much safer," Chen said.
A resident shows an electric heater subsidized by the local government thanks to an initiative to switch from coal to electricity for winter heating on the Lingshan Island in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, June 5, 2023. (Xinhua/Li Ziheng)
More than one-third of households on the island have transitioned to utilizing electricity for winter heating.
Furthermore, the island has been actively converting farmland back into forest since 1986 as part of its green drive. Local authorities have afforested more than 233 hectares of land, accounting for over a third of the entire forest on the island.
The island has made other efforts to reduce fuel energy consumption and environmental pollution, such as promoting photovoltaic power generation and new energy vehicles and launching waste sorting and recycling.
Tourists take electric vehicles as they visit the Lingshan Island in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, June 5, 2023. (Xinhua/Li Ziheng)
Since 2022, the island has begun to run a "carbon credit bank." By holding a range of incentive activities and educational tours, the island has tried to set up a carbon credit redemption system to encourage more residents and tourists to participate in carbon reduction.
At 8:20 a.m., a ship filled with passengers embarked on its journey towards Lingshan Island. After a brief half-hour voyage, the ship slowly docked at the island's pier, where Wang Huajuan warmly greeted her arriving guests.
This aerial photo taken on June 5, 2023 shows a speedboat carrying passengers to the Lingshan Island in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. (Xinhua/Li Ziheng)
Her family runs a homestay on the island, and they are considering an expansion to meet a surge in demand, thanks to the "green brand." "Being the country's first carbon-negative sea island helps attract more tourists," Wang said.
The island's green transformation has provided a significant boost to tourism, benefiting the local community by creating opportunities for them to earn from the industry, which aligns with the concept -- lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets.
Tourists enjoy tea at a homestay on the Lingshan Island in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, June 5, 2023. (Xinhua/Li Ziheng)
To date, 165 homestays and two marine ranches have been built on the island. The per capita disposable income of the locals has increased to over 30,000 yuan (about 4,230 U.S. dollars) now from 22,000 yuan in 2018.
"As carbon reduction efforts deepen, the economic value of China's green endeavors will continue to expand," said Li of Qingdao University of Science and Technology.
(Video reporters: Feng Yuanyuan, Zhu Xiaoguang, Zhao Changxing; video editors: Ma Ruxuan, Hui Peipei) ■