GREEN TEAM: At the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Seattle Conference on September 5, Zhou Wenzhong (left), Secretary General of the BFA, and Yasuo Fukuda, Chairman of the BFA, show a pair of Seattle Seahawks men's polo shirts, the gifts they received from Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State (XU XUN)
Thirty-five years ago, on a chilly day in April, a small cargo ship with a five-star red flag flapping from its stern tied up to Pier 91 in Seattle, the United States.
The 637-foot Liulinhai was the first ship from the People's Republic of China to dock at a North American port since 1949. A few days later, the empty ship took on a load of corn valued at about $5 million and then sailed back home.
The Pacific-crossing maiden voyage of Liulinhai, owned by the China Ocean Shipping Co. (COSCO), marked the restoration of Sino-U.S. maritime transportation. Today, China has become the largest export destination of Washington State. China-bound merchandise accounted for $11.6 billion—about 15 percent—of Washington State exports last year. The state is also one of America's top exporters of food and agricultural products, sending two thirds of its produce to Asian countries.
"We are very proud of our close economic ties to Asia in the past several decades," said Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Seattle Conference on September 5.
Carrying the theme of Energy, Resources and Sustainable Development, the first-ever North American meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia was held from September 4-6. It brought together more than 300 business executives, policymakers and experts from around the Pacific Rim to explore solutions to global challenges related to climate change, energy, urbanization and health, and the growing importance of the Asia-Pacific region in creating solutions.
Washington State boasts a great number of ventures and endeavors on clean and renewable energy, advocates and practices an eco-friendly lifestyle, leads R&D and innovations in sustainable technologies and is a frontrunner in sustainable development, said Zhou Wenzhong, Secretary General of the BFA, at the opening ceremony. "There is no better setting for us to talk about sustainable development and a fresh outlook on energy and resources."
Ready for energy revolution
As global demand for energy continues to increase, environmental advocates and experts have been emphasizing the need for governments to mandate or incentivize more extensive use of the many alternative energy sources that already exist.
In 2013, renewable power cut a much larger slice of the world energy demand pie, but coal, which remained the fastest growing fossil fuel, and oil, also saw their demand grow, according to BP's annual statistical review of world energy—an industry benchmark—released in June.
China has been exploring and developing new sources of energy beyond coal and petroleum including natural gas, renewable energy such as solar, wind and nuclear power, said Zhang Guobao, Chairman of China's Advisory Committee of the National Energy Committee, in a session titled Sustainability of Conventional Energy and the Shale Gas Revolution.
In 2013, China experienced explosive growth in renewable energy production, with wind and solar power increasing 35.3 percent and 122 percent respectively, though nearly two thirds of China's energy consumption is currently powered by coal.
According to The Global Status Report, released in June by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, China led the rest of the world in renewable energy investment in 2013, spending a total of $56.3 billion on wind, solar and other renewable projects. The report stated that China accounted for 61 percent of the total investment in renewables by developing countries, and that China invested more in renewable energy than all of Europe last year.
"The matter of how to improve the efficiency of energy usage and adjust energy structure remains a big challenge for China," Zhang said. The former head of China's National Energy Administration argued that the government should respect private R&D and innovation potential in the face of the inevitable forthcoming energy revolution.