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Opinion
Green Opportunities
 NO. 52 DECEMBER 28, 2017

An employee helps a driver to charge his electric car at an expressway service station in Changxing, east China's Zhejiang Province, December 1, on the day the electric car charge facilities were put into operation (XINHUA)

From electric cars to recycling, China's green vision has provided inspiration and opportunities for environmental protection enterprises worldwide.

The output of the energy-saving, environmental protection and recycling industries in China totaled over 4.5 trillion yuan ($681 billion) in 2016, whilst eco-friendly investment from 2016 to 2020 is expected to top 17 trillion yuan ($2.57 trillion) nationwide, according to recently published statistics.

"Energy and environmental protection firms in the U.S. have seen market opportunities and are ready to invest in China," said Devinder Mahajan, a professor at Stony Brook University, at the third Sino-U.S. Energy and Environment Forum held in Changsha, central China's Hunan Province, earlier this month.

For U.S. automobile giant Ford, business opportunities lie in China's huge market for new energy vehicles.

"China is taking the lead in the electric vehicle market since there is a real government campaign to clean up the air," said Bill Ford, Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Co., at the 2017 Fortune Global Forum held in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, from December 6 to 8.

The U.S. carmaker announced a joint venture with China's Anhui Zotye Automobile to produce and sell electric cars in China, which included plans to launch 15 separate models in the country by 2025.

"China's program to electrify road transport has set an example for the world in green development approaches," said Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

While foreign firms eye opportunities in the Chinese market, Chinese enterprises have teamed up with their foreign counterparts in their pursuit of green development.

As the contractor of Reppie, Africa's first waste-to-energy incineration plant in Ethiopia, the China National Electric Engineering Co. introduced its technology and machinery to help the country's capital incinerate 1,400 tons of waste per day, roughly 80 percent of the city's rubbish. The plant is due to begin operating in January next year, according to the UNEP website.

A total of 44 Chinese environmental protection firms have signed 149 contracts with 54 countries thus far, covering areas including solid waste management, water treatment and soil remediation, according to the E20 Institute of Environment Industry.

UNEP Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw said that China has become a major contributor to clean technologies around the world, which looks to significantly benefit developing countries.

Feng Liang, a senior official with China's National Development and Reform Commission, said at a recent forum that China's green industry would enjoy growing popularity in the global market against a backdrop of international cooperation and continued government support.

"China's green industry will gain a larger share overseas and embrace a new golden era," Feng said.

The progress could not have been made without the series of campaigns that China has launched at home to fight pollution and environmental degradation after decades of growth have left the country with dirty air, polluted water and contaminated soil.

Addressing environmental issues with unprecedented focus, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has placed the Beautiful China initiative at the heart of its two-stage development plan for building a great modern socialist country, according to the report delivered at the 19th CPC National Congress in October.

The toughest-ever environmental protection laws were passed, with a system of "river chiefs" introduced to prevent the pollution of China's waterways.

The country has also been phasing out unclean and inefficient coal-fired boilers, setting up new monitoring stations for air, water and soil protection, and working to build a clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient modern energy system.

It seems these efforts are beginning to pay off. A total of 84 cities met their air quality targets in 2016, compared with just three in 2013, whilst the volume of severely polluted surface water declined to a low of 8.6 percent in 2016.

On December 5, China's Saihanba Afforestation Community was awarded the annual UN Champions of the Earth Award for its outstanding contribution to the restoration of degraded landscapes.

"It proves that environmental challenges are not problems, but opportunities. This work is an inspiration to both China and the world," said Erik Solheim in hailing the achievements of the Saihanba Afforestation Community.

This is an edited excerpt of an article originally published by Xinhua News Agency

Copyedited by Laurence Coulton

Comments to yushujun@bjreview.com

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