By Haibing Ma and Lini Fu  

China has launched more than 100 ”Eco-City” initiatives in recent years, according to a 2009 World Bank report—more than any other country worldwide. These efforts have proven to be an investment hot zone and appear to be a timely mechanism for building China’s sustainable future, particularly as the country urbanizes rapidly. But actually implementing these diverse projects has hit its own sustainability snags, putting a halt to or even shelving several initiatives and putting many others in serious question. 

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Finnish professor Eero Paloheimo, in his pioneering book on the concept, Syntymättömien sukupolvien Eurooppa (The Way Towards a New Europe), observes that most existing theories and designs for Eco-Cities worldwide share a common goal: to enhance the wellbeing of citizens and society through integrated urban planning and management that fully harnesses the benefits of ecological systems, and protects and nurtures these assets for future generations. According to Paloheimo, an Eco-City should embrace the two basic features of: 

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Todd Stern and Xie Zhenhua

United States and China lead climate negotiators Todd Stern (left) and Xie Zhenhua sparred in separate public appearances following the Tianjin negotiations

Representatives of 194 governments met earlier this month in Tianjin, China, for another round of United Nations climate negotiations, followed in short order by several other meetings that will affect progress toward climate solutions. While the intense debate wasn’t quite at the scale of a Hollywood blockbuster, it made clear that countries must fight several key policy and political battles before they can agree to a new international climate treaty. Still, since the comparison of climate negotiations with movies has some tradition, let’s try to make some sense of what happened using film analogies.

The United States took a beating from China for its lack of progress on greenhouse gas pollution reductions, even as China came under fire only days later for currency policies that, in part, artificially lower the price of its renewable energy exports. The following week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading body of global climate scientists, had its turn in the spotlight, as it proposed new standards to avoid future embarrassing allegations of errors in its work, while moving forward with synthesizing humanity’s current knowledge of the threat of climate change.

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