The 4th China-UK Economic and Trade Forum, hosted by China Chamber of Commerce in the UK (CCCUK) and specially supported by Chinese Embassy in the UK and Department for International Trade, will take place on November 25, 2021.
Fang Wenjian, Chairman of the CCCUK and General Manager of Bank of China London Branch, expressed during an exclusive interview with People’s Daily Online that the China-UK trade and investment relationship remains stable despite multiple challenges, and green development and addressing climate change have become the focus of the bilateral cooperation.
“We hope that our two countries, through constructive exchanges and discussions at this forum, will be able to enhance mutual understanding and trust, jointly promote green and low-carbon development as well as explore new paths of mutually beneficial cooperation,” he said.
Promoting green development with Chinese solutions and wisdom
Fang said that the forum demonstrates the specific actions and remarkable progress made by Chinese companies in the UK in green and sustainable development, and highlights the enthusiasm and initiative of Chinese companies in tackling climate change. More importantly, it sends a strong signal to the world that Chinese companies are taking proactive actions in addressing climate change, and Chinese companies in the UK will contribute more to the UK’s “Net Zero Strategy”.
“I would like to make three points by using 3 ‘C’s to describe the role of Chinese enterprises in green development: Chinese enterprises are fully committed to green development, are fully capable to help the UK meet its net zero target and are making plausible contribution to the UK’s low carbon transition,” said Fang.
According to Fang, Chinese companies in the UK are locally rooted and have achieved win-win results through mutually beneficial cooperation. They are willing to shoulder their due responsibilities in addressing climate change, seize the common opportunity of green development and work hand in hand to promote green and low-carbon development cooperation between the two countries.
Chinese enterprises in the UK are responding proactively to the net zero agenda and prioritising green development in their business strategies. CCCUK’s first research on the environmental, social and governance (ESG)progress of Chinese enterprises in the UK shows that 54 percent of surveyed Chinese companies have plans to develop new ESG Initiatives and will prioritize these initiatives in the next 1-2 years, Fang said, adding that the ESG matters have been added to the “2021 Report on the Development of Chinese Enterprises in the UK”, which will be released at the forum.
Fang pointed out that in recent years, Chinese government has placed concrete goals to achieve carbon neutrality and emission peak. Many Chinese companies have carried out specific actions across a number of sectors to ensure a thorough implementation of the policies. “We have confidence utilizing our advanced technologies, products, experiences and talents to accelerate the Net-Zero transition in the UK,” he said.
Citing Chinese enterprise Sungrow as an example, he noted that Sungrow has supplied the total PV and energy storage solution to the Europe’s largest unsubsidized solar-plus-storage project in Yorkshire, opening a new chapter for unsubsidized renewable energy and sustainable development in the UK and the whole Europe, and providing a paradigm for the era of affordable Internet access.
Chinese investment becomes a driving force for UK’s net zero strategy
Fang pointed out that green global investment is playing a crucial role, and investment from China is becoming a driving force for the UK to reach net zero carbon emissions. Chinese enterprises have invested in a number of green, low-carbon and environmentally friendly projects in the UK, and there are many cases on clean growth cooperation.
“We can see that many Chinese companies are already operating in the UK and Europe in renewable energy (mainly wind power and PV), battery research and development and energy storage, which are key areas to achieve net zero emissions, with more and more new players bringing the latest innovations to market,” Fang said.
He mentioned that after Minety battery energy storage system (BESS), the largest energy storage project in Europe developed by China Huaneng Group, was completed and began operation on July 1 this year, Huaneng announced recently that it will invest in a new battery storage project in Stonehill. These two projects continue to be the leader in scale across the Europe, becoming a milestone for the UK energy storage industry. Red Rock Power Limited, a subsidiary of State Development & Investment Corporation (SDIC), has invested in five different phases of wind power projects in the UK and the Nordic region and intends to expand its investment.
In the field of clean transportation, BYD, the world’s leading electric bus manufacturer, has produced more than 500 electric buses which have been put into use in more than 10 cities cross the UK. 22 electric BYD ADL electric buses are serving as the official shuttle for COP26 delegates. Geely Holding bought London Taxi Company in February 2013, purchased a stake in Group Lotus and recently invested GBP 100 million to upgrade Hethel, the Lotus Advanced Performance Centre. Envision Group, a Shanghai-based green tech company, announced in July a plan to invest GBP 450 million to build the UK’s first battery “gigafactory”, which will be built next to Nissan’s Sunderland factory to supply batteries for the next-generation EVs.
Fang pointed out that the green finance is witnessing rapid development. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) London Branch has listed a USD 1.58 billion equivalent green bond in 2018 and signed the world’s first financing agreement of pure green finance club in 2019. In this March, it succeeded in syndicating a GBP 1.6 billion green loan, as the joint lead arranger, to fund a mega M&A deal in the UKand proceeds were received in April in full. Bank of China listed six sustainable bonds, valued at USD 2.2 billion, at the London Stock Exchange on Nov. 12. “These concrete actions once again demonstrate the stern stance and responsibility of the Bank of China in addressing climate change and supporting green transition.
Chinese companies speed up cooperation on green development
“In a recent panel with the City of London, I reiterated that there are massive opportunities for us in green financial products, disclosure, expertise and best practice sharing to address climate change and support the UK’s net-zero transition. Chinese financial institutions have done a lot of exploration in green finance, and we can make more contribution to the green development of China and the UK,”Fangsaid,suggestingthe City of London to incorporate green finance cooperation into the regular cooperation mechanism between the two sides, strengthen international cooperation and enhance the high-quality development capacity of green finance.
Fang noted that as the green finance development speeds up with large scope for cooperation, the enterprises of both sides shall give full play to their complementary advantages, maximize common interestsand promote pragmatic cooperation in such fields as green technology, green energy (such as offshore wind power, tidal power and nuclear power), new energy vehicles, carbon capture and sequestration. “The UK is pushing forward the green revolution in different ways, providing more opportunities for Chinese companies in the UK. The recent report of CCCUK shows that over 80 percent of survey respondents are optimistic about improving revenue and profitability in the next two years,” said Fang.
Since Fang became chairman of the CCCUK in December 2018, he has witnessed the growth of the China-UK Economic and Trade Forum. He expressed his great expectations for the upcoming forum. “Our members have extensive industry coverage. Through this forum, they will build platforms for dialogue and cooperation and take concrete actions to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the UK in the financial and economic fields, jointly promote green development cooperation and contribute to the steady and sound development in China-UK relations.”
Fang concluded that with the support from the UK and Chinese governments and efforts from both enterprises, Chinese enterprises will provide even greater contribution towards achieving the Net Zero Agenda in the UK, inject more impetus into global green and sustainable development and push bilateral cooperation on green development to a higher level.