Multinationals see more China opportunities

Firms are buoyed by nation's energy transition, clear targets on emissions, carbon neutrality

Multinational corporations have said China's ambition of peaking its carbon emissions by 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2060 will bring tremendous opportunities for their business development in China.

China's next stage of rapid development, one that will shift from one dominated by coal to low-carbon sources with a lower environmental footprint, will bring the company substantial development opportunities, said Mike Henry, CEO of mining company BHP Group Ltd, during the three-day China Development Forum 2021 in Beijing, which concluded on Monday.

China's high-quality urbanization will require more future-facing resources, including copper and nickel for electrification and energy storage, and these are central to BHP's strategy and future portfolio. Henry said commodities such as iron ore and metallurgical coal will also fuel the steel production needed to build new urban infrastructure and renewable energy systems and used in advanced manufacturing.

In September, President Xi Jinping stated China's pledge to achieve a carbon emissions peak before 2030 and announced the country's commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

According to Henry, "It will not be easy to advance economic growth at the same pace while protecting the environment, but China has the capability to make this a reality."

Analysts said China's 2060 goal, along with the target of peaking carbon emissions before 2030, is crucial to the global climate-change agenda.

Multinational corporations "have been investing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by switching to green power and improving business efficiencies", said Zhu Yi, a senior analyst at Bloomberg.

Jakob Stausholm, chief executive of Rio Tinto, a metals and mining corporation, said the Chinese government has provided the certainty required for long-term planning with clear targets on climate change, as well as a stable regulatory environment in which the company can operate.

"We are never going to know the future with certainty, but before we invest billions of dollars in transformative projects that will run for many decades, we need to be confident about the rules that will govern their operation, and the clear targets announced by President Xi are a good example of this," he said during the forum, which had the theme "China on a New Journey of Modernization".

Jean-Pascal Tricoire, CEO of Schneider Electric, an energy management and automation company, said China's carbon reduction commitment is very significant news in addressing climate change and sends a strong signal to the world, while bringing a turning point for many fields in which Schneider Electric is a player.

Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of energy company Total SE, said Total's strategy is perfectly aligned with China's pursuit of energy transition, and the company is fully committed to accompanying China in this endeavor through solid and long-term partnerships.

The country's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), under which nonfossil fuel use will increase in China's energy mix, has also provided massive opportunities for Total, and the company plans to increase its installed capacity in solar and wind power in the future, Pouyanne said.(By Zheng Xin and Zhong Nan)


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