Chinese business shows green conscience

Many of China's biggest companies are intent on improving environmental standards and practises, according to a survey conducted by conservation organisation WWF.

All of the companies that participated in the survey said protecting the environment was important, and more than half of them indicated that it was part of their core business values.

This research has come as a surprise to WWF, given the environmental concerns currently associated with China’s rapidly growing economy (see related story).

“The survey shows that a significant group of Chinese companies are more environmentally aware than they are often portrayed,” said WWF spokesman Peng Lei. “If they can show global leadership, they could not only help solve many of China’s environmental problems, but also the world’s.”

With legal standards related to CO2 emissions, waste pollution and renewable energy, around 22% of respondents were implementing stricter environmental rules than required by law, with 13% still calling for stricter mandatory regulations.

“As China emerges as one of the world’s biggest economies, it has massive potential to become a leading world exporter and investor in sustainable goods,” trade and investment spokesman for WWF, Dennis Pamlin added. “China could set the agenda as a global champion for sustainable business solutions.”

However, in order for this to happen, the Chinese government needed to offer financial incentives to leading businesses, Mr Pamlin said, while both companies and governments in the EU, Japan and the US should adopt policies that supported progressive business in China.

According to the survey’s results, there was still a great need to deal with the laggards in China, as many respondents expressed their concerns that a large group of companies were still trying to either lower standards or break the law.

WWF released the results ahead of the Boao Forum for Asia in the hope that the forum could provide an opportunity to discuss ways for China to avert both a domestic and global environmental catastrophe through showing leadership on sustainable development.

The companies surveyed interviewed some of the biggest players in China’s finance, energy, electronic and IT sectors, including China National Petroleum Corporation, Shanghai Automotive Company, China Telecom and China Mobile.

By Jane Kettle

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