Delegates attend the discussion on "Innovation: Building a Sustainable Future" during the 2013 Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, June 7, 2013. [Photo: Xinhua/Xue Yubin]
Business leaders attending this year's Fortune Global Forum held in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province, discussed how to create a new set of tools that will allow their corporations to grow without stressing the earth's resources.
Fu Chengyu, Chairman of Sinopec, said sustainable innovation is about adapting the business model to a changing industry and world. Meanwhile, the demands of the market, and particularly that of the Chinese market, must also be taken into account.
The murky haze that shrouded parts of China, particularly serious during the first half of the year, led to lower national oil standards rather than substandard gasoline and diesel being blamed as primarily responsible for the poor air quality issue. This problem did not just affect Beijing, it also spread across China's eastern provinces.
Fu said that the foremost thing that China must do is to increase the bar of the environmental legislation and improve environmental standards.
Fu added that every industrial enterprise should shoulder their responsibility to environmental protection while carrying out all production processes as they are polluting the environment through the large-scale use of energy and materials.
Petrol corporations face the important task of increasing their green standards to better balance the effects of their oil, gas and diesel extraction and supply processes with their environmental conservation efforts.
As Fu mentioned, if China were to double its GDP without achieving energy efficiency, then the country's growth would take place at the expense of the environment. The National Development and Reform Commission has set a clear goal for the country, and Fu has said his corporation is committed to achieving the outlined targets.
Traditionally, local governments set their own various environmental conservation goals, but China's central government has now made it very clear that it will be mandatory for every layer of the government in every region in China to achieve the Euro 4 standard by the end of this year and Euro 5 next year.
Fu cited the example of hydraulic fracturing technology, the fracturing of various rock layers by a pressurized liquid. While this process is still drawing doubts from environmentalists, Fu believes that in ten years' time great progress will be made, but also emphasizes that everyone must be very responsible. Consumers need to change their consumption behaviors while producers also have to change their production model in order to genuinely make the most of the technology.
Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE, said that pollution reduction is part of China's 12th five-year plan. He believes that to realize its agendas, efforts including slowing down economic growth, driving reforms, getting cleaner fuel in automobiles, taking inefficient coal off the grid, increasing energy efficiency, setting standards for both water and pollution, and so on, are essential.
He added that when both China's national and provincial governments put their mind and focus on something, the country has the ability to move effectively at scale, but real changes in pricing policies and a rise in standards must happen immediately.