Business / Industries

China and UK forge a greener partnership in fight against pollution

By Zhang Chunyan (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-25 10:54

China's move to a low carbon future will provide opportunities for companies in the United Kingdom. The second-biggest economy in the world is going through massive changes with clean and green technology at the forefront of this brave, new world.

China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) marked a turning point in the development of the country with the focus shifting to sustainable growth. By 2020, up to 15 percent of the energy mix will be non-fossil fuels.

Such an ambitious plan will require energy efficient technology, products and solutions - and that is where the UK comes into the equation. As the first economy to experience the industrial revolution, the UK also went through a period of heavy pollution. It was not until the Clean Air Act in 1956 that businesses were forced to upgrade their infrastructure.

Since then, the UK has developed a thriving "clean-tech" industry, which can help China solve its pollution problems and trigger a period of sustainable growth.

Many industries that the Chinese government has placed a great emphasis on include renewable energy, green building techniques, manufacturing, and water and waste management. UK companies have excelled in these sectors.

Heavy industries involved in the production of steel, cement and chemicals tend to leave the biggest carbon footprint because of their reliance on coal to fuel factories. Finding cleaner energy solutions will be a major challenge.

One area in which UK companies could play a key role is in carbon capture and storage technology. This involves removing harmful greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels and storing them safely underground.

Energy efficient machines and production lines will also help in the drive to cut pollution in China. Again, UK companies are ideally placed to come up with solutions to this problem.

During the double-digit growth period, Chinese businesses simply bought cheap machinery that did the job. But as energy costs increased, this policy proved flawed when it came to sustainable growth.

Now, it makes sense to invest in machinery and production lines that are more expensive, but are also more cost effective in the long term. UK companies are well placed in that department.

They also have considerable expertise in reducing emissions from commercial and residential buildings by using green technology techniques.

Business cooperation between China and the UK has taken place at the government level. So far, the two countries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Climate Change Cooperation.

By demonstrating to China that the UK can deliver real carbon reductions, the two countries can be at the forefront of the low-carbon industrial revolution.

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