Moves Afoot to Subdue Smog

Although China has formulated comprehensive environmental policies, problems exist as regards their implementation, according to Hu.

The first is insufficient transparency. The second lies in inconsistencies among central and local government policies and those introduced by different central government departments. The third is the frequent absence of impartiality.

“As long as policy implementation can keep pace with technology and capital investment, the prospects for China’s environmental management are bright,” Hu said. “It’s vital to keep in mind that high tech, capital, and policy are integral to the development of clean technology.”

Li Zheng, head of the Changsha branch of Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, sees intellectual property and all its ramifications as major obstacles to the development of China’s low-carbon technology. “As investment returns are investors’ main concern, they will demand legal protection of clean energy companies’ innovative technologies and patents. But rampant copycatting poses a serious threat to their interests,” Li said.

The good news is that a raft of laws and regulations on intellectual property protection have been introduced this year. In June, the NPC Standing Committee reviewed implementation of the Patent Law, and in August approved the establishment of intellectual property courts in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Meanwhile, revision of the Law on Promoting the Transformation of Scientific and Technological Achievements is imminent. All these new legislative measures will help advance the development of clean technology in China.


Attractive to Domestic and Overseas Investors

Attendees at the global clean-tech conference raised suggestions on promoting the development of clean technology, and made valid technical proposals.

Automobile exhaust is a major contributing factor to smoggy weather. Reducing car exhaust emissions, therefore, is a viable solution to controlling smog. Shanghai Shenzhou Vehicle Energy Saving & Environmental Protection Co., Ltd. has developed an aerodynamic energy saving system for buses. It accumulates energy while the vehicle is in neutral gear, and releases it when the vehicle moves, so making a 20 percent energy saving and reducing emissions by 40 percent. In this way, savings on gasoline after just two and a half years offset the cost of the energy-saving system.

Industrial boiler emissions are another major contributor to smog, oxynitride and carbon dioxide being China’s most prevalent pollutants. EEMCO has developed a thermal energy system that features both low emissions and a 92 percent energy saving. Most of China’s total 620,000 industrial boilers need to be overhauled in order to save energy, reduce emissions, and meet the country’s new emission standard. There is hence a vast market for this thermal energy system.

China must, according to Wang Yi, also relax control over its service industry to attract more private capital into the clean tech sector.

Liu Xiaoyu is a clean tech expert at the Asian Development Bank. In his experience, new businesses have big capital demands at their initial stage, but entail a relatively long investment cycle. Supportive governmental policies and subsidies, therefore, are vital for nascent firms. “However, we must also allow the market to play its role,” Liu said. In his view, governmental subsidies should go not to enterprises, but rather to product end-users. Once enterprises gain the capacity to run independently according to market rules, the government is best advised to bow out and let them get on with it.

Foreign investors at the conference confirmed that China’s clean tech market is a focus of interest for overseas capital. Back in the 1970s, the U.S. and Europe faced air pollution problems similar to China’s, and so have mature technology born of experience in this regard.

But to achieve rapid returns on their investment in China, foreign investors must address such difficulties as the rapidly changing legal system, complicated interpersonal relationships, and the time-consuming process of converting foreign currencies to RMB.

As to the industry’s main concern about the allocation of governmental funds to enliven the market mechanism, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology energy solution department Wang De believes that the recently revised Budget Law will effectively coordinate state funding with industrial development. China can thus formulate a new plan for its annual budget expenditure of tens of billion yuan on energy saving and emissions reduction.

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