In the Air Japan
China’s push into Cleantech
Lately I have noticed how many people still have an outdated view on the environmental situation in China.
It’s true that the environment has suffered the most during the past 30 years when the Chinese economy has grown to soon become the largest economy in the World. Coal burning is the main source of Chinese air pollution and is also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Vehicle use is growing rapidly as well. The total new car sales in China reached 18 million cars in 2010 and China became the largest car market in the world with 80 million vehicles, a fleet that is still estimated to increase by more than 1.5 million each month.
There are some truly horrible stories and experiences on how the environment and people have suffered in China. Lately my family had the unpleasant surprise of feeling the risks of living in China even in Shanghai. There was a series of lead poisoning cases from illegal lead discharges of battery factories around Shanghai and one of the factories happened to be only some 3km from my home and our kids school. Some kids in the school had higher lead values than normal, but the local Chinese families with children living closer to the factories and growing their own vegetables etc. were the ones who suffered the most from this violation. Similar and much worse stories can be found in the thousands around China hand it’s always the innocent people just happening to live near the polluting factories who suffer the most.
So what is new about Cleantech and environmental protection in China? First of all there has been a huge and increasing push into Cleantech and environmental protection during the last 5 years in China. The total investment in anti-pollution measures has been increasing year by year. The main trigger for the Chinese government to focus on Cleantech was when it became evident that economic growth was actually at risk if the environmental problems weren’t taken care of. During the previous 11th 5-Year Plan the Chinese government started to bring more attention towards the need to protect the environment. In the new 12th 5-Year Plan there is a huge New Energy plan which equals to RMB 5 trillion in investment by 2020 in new energies, such as nuclear, wind, solar and biomass, as well as cleaner coal-burning plants and improvements to the power grid.
Not too many people outside China know that China has already become the world’s biggest producer and market for renewable energy technologies. In this case we can also see that there are at least two sides to the environmental story in China and the good thing is that the positive side of Cleantech and environmental protection in China is clearly becoming a lot more powerful than what it used to be.
Within the FinNode China Network we are following closely how the Chinese Cleantech market is developing during the 12th 5-Year Plan. We have also formed a Cleantech Finland Team here in China which pulls together all the key Finnish players in this area including Cleantech Finland, Finpro, FECC, Tekes, VTT, Invest in Finland and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.