Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC)

BCECC Newsletter: Sustainability in China and opportunities for Belgian companies

In 2020, China made the pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, with a peak in carbon dioxide emissions before 2030. Since then, environmental protection and green development have become high priorities for the entire country. This creates opportunities for cooperation between Belgian and Chinese companies.

The fight against pollution: 
Many frequent Belgian business travelers to China certainly still remember the days when China was home to many of the world’s most polluted cities, which had serious adverse impacts on human health. Today, the general Belgian public may still see China as a country which doesn’t take the environment seriously, but the opposite is true.

Several years ago, China’s government declared the war on air pollution and implemented stringent measures, including the closure of polluting industries, the promotion of clean technologies, and the establishment of emission standards. China has the ambition to become a world leader in the renewable energy industry and has launched several eco-friendly structural changes through policies, subsidies and programs. This includes efforts to foster the development of green industries, such as solar and wind power, electric vehicles, a greener transportation sector, etc.

From policy-driven to demand-driven sustainability:
Environmental awareness keeps growing in China, especially at the younger generations. Sustainability is becoming trendier in China. Today, Chinese consumers are increasingly interested in buying green products, not only new energy vehicles and energy efficient appliances, but also basic necessities and daily consumer products. Chinese consumers are also health conscious. They want to buy products that are natural, with no added chemicals, and organic, especially for food and cosmetics.

Challenges ahead:
However, still today, China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Additionally, coal and other fossil fuels remain the main energy sources in China. The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the Chinese economy and as a result many environmental projects were scaled down or cancelled. Finally, from the Chinese consumers’ point of view, there is indeed a growing level of green consumption intention, but in practice, some consumers do not actually engage in green purchasing yet.

Despite these obstacles, China is still on track with its sustainable development strategies, taking a long-term approach and counting on a slow but steady government-backed energy transition.

Opportunities for Belgian companies in China’s Green Industry:
Belgium has many prominent renewable energy and cleantech companies, pioneering research centers and knowledge platforms, which possess advanced technologies, research capabilities, and experience in sustainable practices. 

Collaboration between Belgian and Chinese companies can create mutually beneficial partnerships. There are several successful cases in which Belgian companies, by partnering with local Chinese firms, can leverage their strengths to gain insights into the Chinese market, adapt products and services to local needs, and establish long-term relationships. Joint ventures and technology transfer agreements can facilitate knowledge exchange, fostering innovation and growth in the green sectors.

The stakes are high: on one hand China has big ambitions in sustainability, environmental protection and decarbonization, and on the other hand the country is looking for advanced technologies, an area in which Belgian companies have a lot to offer.

Please contact the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) in case you need more information.