"Sustainability gives fantastic business opportunities in China".
Contrary to much Western opinion, environmental regulations for modern industrial infrastructure in China are among the toughest in the world. China’s new Five Year Plan (2011-2015) clearly wants to drive the development of green technologies and products to meet the growing demand for ecological solutions.
Without a doubt, “sustainability” is the buzzword of the day as the leaders of the Middle Kingdom tries to curb its carbon footprint, cut pollution that covers parts of the country in smog and become an exporter of cleantech innovations.
This opens up massive business opportunities for Swedish and Western companies.
“Sustainability drives business in China. It gives fantastic business opportunities”, Hans Wijers, chief executive of Swedish-Dutch paint and chemicals company AkzoNobel, told the Swedish Wire in Shanghai. “If you’re innovative, if you’re ahead of the rest of the crowd, if you meet demand of customers, then you will be a winner”.
The green boost is not only lip service. China is emerging as the clear leader in the race for global dominance in the clean tech sector, according to a report from the World Watch Institute. “Governments and industries around the world are now struggling to keep pace with China,” said Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin. “China is succeeding precisely where the United States is failing – in implementing the ambitious policies and making the sustained investment that is needed to spur growth in clean energy”.
Hans Vijers, in China to open a $375m production facility in Ningbo, said China's green move is "not a fashion thing, it's a necessity".
"Look at the impact that economic growth has on society, with pollution and dirty rivers. People want clean environment, they want to live safely, they don't want to be exposed to fumes", he told The Swedish Wire.
Last week Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met with visiting Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf. The two sides vowed to advance bilateral relations to a higher level especially in fields such as technological innovation.
"Chinese and Swedish people have shared friendship throughout the ages," Xi said, and voiced China's commitment to working with Sweden to push forward the bilateral friendly cooperation.
Sweden is gaining a growing reputation as a global front-runner in green engineering and of taking measures to curb pollution. "The Nordic countries are inspiring us. They are creating inspirational structures and goals, laws and regulations. The environmental community should look carefully at what is happening in the Nordic region," Angel Gurria, general secretary of the OECD, told Chinese newswire Xinhua.
For China, investments in clean technology are not only an anxious act to fight pollution and curb swelling energy costs. It’s also a strategy for future businesses. Just as Taiwan and South Korea became the world hub for home electronics, with brands such as LG Electronics and Samsung, China aims to take the same position in environmentally friendly products.
New tougher regulations are also a way for the government to get rid of unwanted companies. Many smaller players that don’t meet new environment regulations will go under, Hans Vijers predicts.
Beijing's efforts to reduce dependence on coal and crude oil by developing cleaner forms of energy have also raised investor interest in the renewable energy sector, leading to the Hong Kong listings. Six clean energy companies have listed in Hong Kong since 2009, raising a total of 4.4 billion US dollars, according to Dow Jones Newswires. Two more of China's top power producers now plan to raise 2.5 billion US dollars by listing their wind-power units.
On Wednesday the United States and China -- the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters -- announced they had launched a joint clean energy initiative -- one of the largest research collaborations between two countries in the world.
Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley's non-executive chairman of Asia, said earlier this month that the next five years would be a crucial period for China. The 12th Five-Year Plan would be a turning point for China's economic development as well as the world's.
"The transformation of China's economic growth pattern would make China more sustainable, which is desirable for the world," said Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator of the Financial Times.
Image: World Watch Institute
Last Updated (Thursday, 18 November 2010 10:11)