Riding the Green Dragon, Environmental Opportunities Abound in China

Developed world countries with the reputation of being green technology leaders are falling behind in the huge new market for green goods and services opening up in China.

Prepared to ride the Green Dragon?, a new report from WWF, estimates that companies with environment friendly solutions are looking at market possibilities ranging from between USD$1.5 (€1.1) and USD$1.9 (€1.4) trillion to be invested in China in the period up to 2020.

The massive investments planned in environmental technology will make China a hub for development of the low cost environmental solutions necessary in a 21st century where environmental constraints will increasingly guide the global economy, notes the report.

“Western entrepreneurs and stakeholders with access to green solutions now have an unprecedented opportunity to invest in and grow with the expanding Chinese market, and thereby position themselves for an emerging, new global economy” said Børge Brende, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, and vice-chair of The China Council (CCICED).

But a case study of Norway shows that the Western rhetoric of green investing in China is outpacing the reality,

“In spite of high goals for environmental cooperation with China, Norway‘s current engagement is fragmented and dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises. OECD countries need to scale up and aim for ambitious partnerships with China in fields where they have leading green technology;” said Rasmus Reinvang of WWF Norway, lead author of the report.

The Chinese government has set ambitious targets to move towards a clean-energy economy, including a 20% reduction in energy intensity by 2010, and a doubling of renewable energy to 15 % by 2015. China is particularly keen on developing its small-scale hydropower capacity, a market open to foreign investment, from 2006 levels of 40 Gigawatts (GW) to 125 GW by 2020.

The Chinese goal to quintuple wind power production to 30 GW by 2020 will be reached already by 2012 with the current growth rates in the Chinese wind power sector. While global renewable energy investments have been falling due to the credit crunch, investments in China are expected to increase this quarter to US$3.5 billion and further strengthening China’s wind sector.

”Deep sea off-shore wind is an area where Sino-Norwegian cooperation could speed up commercialization of a whole new industry and contribute greatly to tackling global warming.” Said Chen Dongmei, head of the Climate and Energy programme for WWF in China.

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