Green goals to build business bridges with Europe
Updated: 2011-03-25 10:42
By Zhang Chunyan (China Daily European Weekly)
The slew of green targets and initiatives outlined in China's new five-year plan will throw open several opportunities for domestic and European businesses, say experts.
"With China giving top priority for low-carbon growth, there are considerable opportunities for UK businesses with low-carbon knowledge, capability, and commercial expertise," Susan Haird, acting chief executive of UK Trade & Investment, told China Daily during an interview in London.
"It is important that we continue to increase two-way investment (between our countries) in low-carbon goods and services, as this will lead to the increased growth of a global low-carbon economy," Haird says.
China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) seeks to achieve a more balanced approach to growth and development, with greater attention on the environment and sustainable development.
Green and low-carbon sectors have been identified as the core of a new industrial strategy and an important pillar for growth. The National People's Congress, China's legislative body, approved the new thrust at its annual session on March 14.
"The UK and China must continue to collaborate in developing to ensure both countries' future economic prosperity and environmental security," Haird says.
China and Scotland sealed a major green energy deal when Vice-Premier Li Keqiang visited the United Kingdom in January.
The agreement, worth 6.4 million pounds (7.33 million euros), will see technology pioneered in Scotland used at a new renewable-energy conversion plant in China.
The licensing deal was reached between the Sino-Scottish company Shanghai Huanuan Boiler and Vessel Co/Cochran and the Scotland-based W2E Engineering, which specializes in generating electricity from domestic waste.
Like the UK, some European countries' current leadership in low-carbon technologies means that they can be the first in line to benefit from the growth in China's green markets.
China and Germany signed a deal to cooperate on low-carbon product certification in October 2009, the first such foreign cooperative program undertaken by China's Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Stephen Phillips, CEO of the China-Britain Business Council, says China needs to develop an effective eco-cities and green building program, and in recent years the Chinese government has taken a number of dynamic policy initiatives in this area with the active engagement and support of European organizations and companies.
"The priority placed on these areas in the new five-year plan, therefore, means that the scale of the opportunities for Europe and European businesses are very significant," Phillips says.
Under the 12th Five-Year Plan, the government will introduce hard environmental targets. Europe will benefit from China's contribution to curbing greenhouse-gas emissions globally.
Regarding ways that Europe and China can cooperate in developing low-carbon technology, Martin Townsend, director of BRE Environmental Assessment Method, says "shared research will ensure that we are increasing the innovation cycles for the technologies that we need to put in place."
BRE is an independent research-based consultancy and testing and training organization that offers expertise in environmental assessment of buildings and associated industries.
"Low-carbon development presents a number of technological challenges and it will require a great deal of effort to overcome these and see the gains of reduced carbon-dioxide emissions," says Peter Madigan, head of Renewable UK.
"Wherever possible, cooperation and sharing of information should be promoted for the mutual benefit of all countries pursuing this technology," Madigan says.
Business leaders also agree that Chinese renewable-energy companies will benefit from these overseas investments because new innovative technologies will be generated for use in the domestic market.
According to Haird, an example of this is the deepwater offshore wind energy development, taking place off the UK coast. This massive project requires substantial research and development (R&D).
Joint collaboration on this R&D will produce technology that can be used in the development of the Chinese offshore wind industry in the future, says Haird.
As Haird says, many UK multinational corporations are already vitally supporting China's low-carbon development through investment and trade. They are working with provincial and city authorities on low-carbon urban infrastructure and planning.
Many are also working with their Chinese suppliers and manufacturers on greening their businesses and supply chains, for example through improved resource management, waste reduction, new-energy and carbon standards, carbon labeling of products and R&D.
"As with all new technologies, experience is gained by delivering projects, and this experience is fed back to next generation of projects," Madigan says.
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