Welcome to China Daily Webchat. I'm Qiang Xiaoji. Today we are honored to have Mr Jorge Mora, CEO of Veolia Asia. Mr Mora came to China in 1994 as the first representative of the group to explore business. Since then, he has led the rapid expansion of the group in Asia and particularly in China.
Host: Veolia has been in the Chinese market since 1994, and now it has spread its business in more than 30 cities in the Chinese mainland. So as a witness, could you describe the changes and development of China's environmental businesses in the past years?
Mora: Yes. I would say, it's "day" and "night", or better, "night" and "day". In 1994, it was "night". I mean that I didn't feel that the Chinese were very much involved with the environment. That was not their main concern. In 1994, their main concern was what they called GDP, GDP, GDP, growth, growth, growth, whatever happened. I saw that changing over the years through the very strict decisions implemented by your government, whether it's central government, local government or provincial governments. It became, you know, more and more "day".
Everybody was very much involved, from the Chinese, you know the very simple Chinese, industry to the countryside, every where, to the top level Chinese. And today, everybody is very much involved and concerned about environment. And when you compare the 11th Five Year Plan and the 12th Five Year Plan, you can see the growing concern about environment. Within the 11th Five Year Plan, it was already very much emphasized on the need of a sweet development, a sustainable development. Now it is not more emphasizing, it is very, very, very, very harsh on that. That's what I saw. I saw the "night" becoming "day".
Host: OK, thank you very much. And the 12th Five Year Plan was just approved by the National People's Congress in early March. So what challenges and opportunities will the plan bring to Veolia? And will you adjust your China strategy accordingly?
Mora: First of all, I would say, it makes everything easier for Veolia, because it's not anymore Veolia trying to convince everybody about the needs of protecting the environment and going to sustainable development. It's now for Veolia to follow the instruction, very clear instructions, of your government. Our main challenge is to follow, to do whatever is needed, to be everyday better. We cannot just be the Veolia of 17 years ago forever. We must everyday improve ourselves. That is our challenge to get the best people, the best ladies, the best men, the best engineers, without our company and to fight everyday harder and harder and harder in order to win. Not to win for Veolia, to win for the environment and to win for China. That is our challenge. And we will do it.
Host: What can Veolia do to promote the low-carbon urban development in China?
Mora: I have very simple advice. Follow the very clear instructions of the 12th Plan. It's very clear. When you read it wherever you go, it gives a very clear indication of what has to be done, a very clear indication about how to better manage energy. And we are energy savers. A very clear indication of how to build better housing, how to have a safer environment, how to better treat the waste in order to avoid all those gases going into the air polluting everything.
Host: There are a lot of things to be done and there are a lot of problems to be solved in building low-carbon cities. And what do you think is China's biggest challenge?
Mora: One of the biggest challenges is, I would say, energy. Why? Because China still needs a lot of coal in order to produce its energy. It goes little-by-little up, faster and faster, to the use of renewable sources of energy. That is a challenge. It's a real challenge. It's not good enough to say, ‘We will not use coals any more. We will not pollute any more, we will…' It has to be done: less and less coal and going with all the energies like China is doing. Even with what's happening in Japan going to nuclear production of energy just because it's needed. It's needed. It's, I would say, today it's a saver way. About renewable energy, it's also about how to save, say, water whether it's in the…for agriculture or for industry. How to produce good water quality whether it's coming from the sea, wherever it's coming from. How to better use the river resources. How to better distribute the river resources. How to better manage all the pollution, which means all the waste – and many toxic waste. How to take care of heavy metal of pollutants. All that are challenges. But what is the main challenge? It's not about what your government wants. It's not about if it's possible or not. It is about what you Chinese citizens really want. You are your own challenge. If you, as a citizen, don't believe in it, then nothing is possible.
Host: And just now you mentioned energy is very, very important, so what can Veolia do in this sector? Can you give us some examples? Some of the projects you are doing in China?
Mora: Yes. In terms of energy, (there are) only two examples: Jiamusi and Harbin. In very cold cities, as you know, along the Russian boarder – very cold – we are managing the heating systems of the two cities. Heating is energy, energy consumption. So what are we doing? We are producing the same temperature using far less energy, saving energy, making sure that the energy is not going outside. Use less, just because populations open the doors, indoors, whatever, just saving the energy. That is what we are doing in China already within the cities of Jiamusi and Harbin. And we are expecting to do much more than that. What we are doing also in terms of energy saving, it's also with our West business. Why? Because to produce goods, you need energy. If you recycle more, you will need less energy. You will produce less. So the more you recycle, the more you address the waste problems, the less energy consumption.
Part II Jorge Mora: Getting dirty in order for others to be clean (II)