Green recovery" and "low-carbon opportunity" were repeated catchphrases at this year's Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) held on April 9-11 in Boao, a scenic town of south China's Hainan Province.
Focusing on Asia's recovery from the economic downturn, more than 2,000 business leaders, politicians and academics from Asia and around the world came to the annual event for a clear picture of Asia's future. In a world reshaped by the financial crisis, Asia was the first to achieve an economic turnaround and has acted as a major engine behind global economic recovery. And many countries have embraced the green trend to find low-carbon solutions to ensure sustainable growth and create jobs while coping with climate change and energy security.
While diverse in political and cultural backgrounds, countries across Asia have been able to reach a consensus on green growth. So far, the major economies of Asia have all announced their long-term targets for carbon emission cuts. China committed to a target of carbon dioxide reduction per unit of GDP of 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, while India would rein in its carbon intensity by 20-25 percent.
And if Asia has learned one thing from the financial crisis, it is that "we must further improve the development model, and seek a path of green and sustainable development with Asian characteristics and that is consistent with the trend of our times," said Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping during a keynote speech at the opening plenary on April 10.
As to concerns about the necessity of nations, especially developing ones, to sacrifice growth for green efforts, panelists argued priority should be given to improving energy efficiency either in production or consumption, then to research on new energies that demand large investment.
The Boao Forum was established in 2001 to promote unity and economic cooperation in the region, and has since gathered prominence for its global perspective. Sessions this year revolved around the theme "Green Recovery: Asia's Realistic Choice for Sustainable Growth."
Green means business
"In "In pursuit of green growth, China will be able to cope with the challenge of shifting from a manufacturing base for consumer goods to a provider of knowledge-, technology-intensive products and services through industrial updating." —Zhang Yaqin, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft and Chairman of Beijing-based Microsoft Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group pursuit of green growth, China will be able to cope with the challenge of shifting from a manufacturing base for consumer goods to a provider of knowledge-, technology-intensive products and services through industrial updating." --Zhang Yaqin, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft and Chairman of Beijing-based Microsoft Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group
"The small town of Boao offers us a good example of how jobs are provided and local economy is developed in an environmentally friendly way. Foresight and wisdom are required in choosing the right industry for a local economy to court wealth while avoiding pollution." —Luo Xiaohong, CEO of Shanghai DirectWay Bio-technology Co. Ltd.
"Better than producing new energy is the energy you don't use at all, and our solution is simple: just apply technologies already available at reasonable costs to reduce the demand for energy dramatically." —Kim Fausing, COO of Danfoss A/S of Denmark
"Green is real business, and it's not just CSR activities. It's about making sure you are using technologies to save money." —Amit Midha, Dell Great China President
Green recovery will benefit not only the globe but also business circles, said Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen at the opening plenary.
Rasmussen said Denmark's exports of energy and environment-related technologies have tripled in the past decade, increasing much faster than exports of ordinary goods.
An additional investment of more than $10 trillion will need to be used globally by 2030 to combat climate change, which means each country must invest 1 percent of its GDP, he said.
"Countries that have already started developing a green economy will take the lead in this era, and it's exactly what Denmark has done in recent years."
At the closed-door China CEO Roundtable on April 9, executives of multinationals' China operations exchanged views on how to find profit in green solutions.
"Green is real business, and it's not just CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] activities," Dell Greater China President Amit Midha told Beijing Review at the forum, adding that using these technologies could also save corporations' money.
Dell's solutions in this respect include replacing 30 percent of its servers with newer ones, and installing simple software that shuts down computers worldwide within the company, which will cut the company's electricity costs by 40 percent, Midha said.
Zhang Yaqin, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft and Chairman of Beijing-based Microsoft Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group (ARD), said Chinese executives at the roundtable saw more opportunities than challenges in China' commitment to a green economy.
"While green growth in a physical sense refers to carbon emission reduction, low-carbon production, consumption and lifestyle, and development of alternative energy, I think it's more important, especially for companies in China, to build their capacity of sustainable growth on better corporate management, better business models and corporate culture," Zhang told Beijing Review. "This will also help China tackle the challenge of shifting from a manufacturing base for consumer goods to a provider of knowledge- and technology-intensive products and services through industrial updating."
Quoting a McKinsey&Co. report that said the general application of information technologies will help cut global carbon emissions by 15 percent, Zhang said the information technology will help reduce the carbon footprint within the industry, improve energy efficiency within huge data centers, and cut energy consumption and pollution in traditional industries where it is applied to streamline production processes.
"We need a resolution and clear strategies in green-related efforts, which I think China has already had. We also need some incentives such as tax rebates on energy efficiency to encourage companies' green investments. And companies need to be aware of business opportunities within green commitments—it's more than a responsibility," Zhang said.