Business / Economy

Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region to 'speed up' transition

By Lan Lan ( Updated: 2015-10-24 09:57

Economic and environmental prosperity will go hand in hand, according to new report

China's Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the country's political center as well as home to many polluting enterprises, has the potential to speed up transition in a way that makes sense for both the economy and environment, said a report released on Friday.

The region is home to China's largest steel and iron manufacturers and some of the most polluted cities in the world. The steel, coke and cement industries are the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

The problem of industrial overcapacity and the massive blasts in Tianjin in mid-August cast a shadow on the region's economic transition, while a report released by the Paulson Institute in Beijing on Friday said economic and environmental prosperity can go hand in hand in the region.

"My judgment is the (13th Five-Year) plan will be very ambitious, and everyone will be very pleased with the plan. The important thing is to figure out how to make the plan a reality," Henry Paulson, former US Secretary of the Treasury, said in an interview.

"It's difficult when you look at a region like Jing-Jin-Ji (Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei), how to go from dirty plants to clean plants and continue to grow. I think that's doable, but it's going to take some time," he said.

The advantage of the region is having good infrastructure and easy access to wind and solar power and the government's commitment to environmental improvement and economic transition.

Such a transition could provide huge potential for foreign companies. "The market for environmental goods and services are huge, just huge," said Paulson.

The region has good reason to focus its pollution reduction efforts on efficiency improvements in the industrial sector, though efficient buildings and transportation are also important priorities, said the report.

Officials said that the emission reduction campaign conducted in Beijing during APEC China 2014 is not sustainable, but it shows that controlling air pollution is doable, said Wang Jiahui, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform.

She said about 19 of the large-scale coal-fired units in Tianjin will reach the emission standards of gas-fired units by the end of this year.

Liu Bozheng, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, said Beijing will close 1,200 energy guzzling and polluting companies by 2017.

"These companies will be closed and won't be transferred to other regions," said Liu.

Other measures for adjusting the energy mix are under way. The capital has shut four major thermoelectric centers and changed many coal-fired boilers to gas-fired boilers. It also revamped buildings with a combined area of 42 million square meters to improve energy efficiency.

The report also suggests that city officials need to identify new industries for growth, rather than seek to revitalize declining industries.

Hebei should focus on policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, and that have strong growth and job creation potential.

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