China is one of the world’s worst polluter. We talked to Changhua Wu, speaker at the Global Female Leaders 2018, who reflected the year 2017 on the topic sustainable development in China. We will list 12 highlights in total. In part 1 of China’s path to a greener future we will highlight the first six issues like smog, globalsation or climate change. Can China even go green?
China’s carbon trading scheme
China is to officially kick off its national carbon trading scheme this week, right before the end of 2017, as promised to the international community. A bit “shocking” though to many international players, because rather than eight or three focus industrial sectors, China will first focus only on power generation sector for its national carbon market for now. As usual, this will stir quite some noises globally.
Today China has a more significant role and also influence on global environmental governance. Its leadership has been expected and its decision on such key issues as carbon trading literally attracts the eyeballs globally. We all know that in order to effectively address climate challenge, price on carbon is recognised as a crucial policy instrument to drive actions. It would be no surprise when foreign journalists and colleagues put their doubts on the table how seriously China really is to drive low carbon transformation. Doubts or not, let’s put it on the side while focusing on what a splendid year China has had in shifting its growth paradigm and embarking on a sustainable pathway.
12 highlights in 2017
We have 12 highlights on the list of China’s greening pathway forward reflected by speaker Changhua Wu. In the first part we will list the first six issues.
War on Smog
The first highlight is Winning the War on Smog. Heavy smog episode hit Beijing and literally kicked off the capital city’s new year of 2017. Four years passed when Premier Li Keqiang declared War on Pollution, and yet smog constantly disturbs people’s life on a regular basis. Time flies, fast. When the year approaches the very end of the year, people in Beijing are more in the celebration mood for blue skies and clear air. At a winter heating season, when usually smog would be the heaviest, government takes actions to shift coal to gas, industries advance cleaner production and sometimes with much reduced capacity, and wind definitely helps too. All added up bring a temporary victory of winning the war on smog. And people would ask for it to become a “New Normal”
War on Plastics
Second is War on Plastics. The documentary of Plastics China won an international award in the Netherlands, more like the “Academy Award” for the best documentaries. This film was then invited to show on January 19th at the Sundance Film Festival, the day before Trump’s Presidential inauguration, for a reason. Plastics China attracted a few million viewers with a couple days after it was posted online. A few months later, Chinese government announced “Say No” to foreign garbage imports, with plastics on the top list. In the meantime, it has also been noticed that plastics packaging wastes issue had been lifted up and extended very broadly, in particular to get the consumers’ awareness and society’s change of behavior around e-commerce and express delivery. Companies have also started to take actions. Alibaba joined hands with Ministry of Environmental Protection to drive R&D for substitute bio-degradable materials. This echoes well with global campaign to address plastics in the oceans.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Third is Continued Corporate Sustainability Leadership and Innovation. Changhua sits on a few global leading companies’ sustainability advisory boards, such as Dow Chemicals and P&G in North America, BHPBilliton in Australia, IKEA, DPDHL and Veolia in Europe. While she appreciates greatly those opportunities to deep-dive into those sectors to understand the innovation, strategy and barriers to overcome for those leading companies when driving sustainability strategy, she has to say that their role models set precedents for more Chinese companies to follow suit, particularly now in the fast shifting global context of China leading a new globalisation.
Fourth is Green Belt and Road. In May the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) High-level Forum in Beijing ushered in a new stage when China officially rolled out its Belt and Road Initiative jointly with global partners. A grand new growth engine created under China’s leadership, OBOR becomes increasingly appreciated by other countries and companies of such a grand scale of new globalisation strategy. One of the most impressive developments is that green is now added to define OBOR, which is well aligned with President Xi Jinping’s vision of ecological civilisation and China’s contribution and leadership of a new global environmental governance. In the meantime, digital becomes another definitive word for OBOR, particularly in the context of EuroAsia Continental partnership. It is believed that a close partnership between China and Europe in the new technology age will enhance the foundation of a sound biosphere-based sustainable future.
Fifth is New Era of Climate Change. What a bumpy road for climate change global process! President Trump decided to pull the US out of Paris Agreement and insisted on re-negotiation of a climate agreement that has to favor the US. As the world largest economy and second largest emitter, US decision of actions or no actions has a much larger repercussions globally. Suddenly, the whole world got disturbed and worried about the future of the Paris Agreement, a successful outcome from a long, overdue and difficult negotiation process. What is encouraging is other major economies did not shiver. China, EU, India and many others are firm and steady, with a clear position that Paris Agreement is not re-negotiable! Such leadership becomes the foundation for global efforts to carry on the global clean revolution and transformation towards a climate resilient future. While all the countries that have stayed on deserve the credit, a special recognition for his leadership to advance global momentum and actions goes to the French President Macron.
Zhenjiang: A low-carbon pilot city
Sixth is Zhenjiang International Low Carbon Expo. China has taken low carbon transformation seriously, not only to address climate challenges and shoulder its responsibility of the largest emitter, but rather to seize the opportunity to transform its economy, industry, energy and infrastructure by capturing the new technology and industrial revolution. Cities and regions are all on board for action. Zhenjiang of Jiangsu Province, one of the national low carbon city pilots, launched an international partnership Expo when technologies, industries, finance, innovation and entrepreneurship are all gathered to zoom in on solutions for a climate resilient future.
Stay tuned for the next six highlights on sustainable development in China in 2017.
Global Female Leaders 2017: A Thorough Look Back
To sum up this great event in a single blogpost would be nearly impossible. Fortunately, we don’t have to try this, because our dear partner Accenture provided us with an in-depth White Paper, that you can now download on our website!
Just fill out the form below and enjoy over 50 pages of insights and key takeaways from the 2017 summit. We thank Accenture for their contribution and hope you enjoy the read!