Editor’s Note: The Communist Party of China has just concluded its 19th National Congress in Beijing. In the run-up to the meeting, China Daily asked business leaders from major multinational companies for their views on economic developments here and the country’s global leadership role.
Zhang Xinsheng is executive chairman of Shell Companies in China, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the global energy group.
How can China achieve stable and sustainable economic growth?
China has a growing population with urbanization rates predicted to reach 60 percent by 2020.
Therefore, the country needs cleaner energy in order to meet the increase in demand. At the same time, it needs to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.
This requires a change in the way energy is produced, used and made accessible. China has already been taking significant steps in this direction by investing in renewables and increasing its use of gas.
Since 2011, Shell has worked closely with the Development Research Center of the State Council on the country’s energy development strategy. (We have) identified key challenges facing the country and suggested detailed, practical solutions.
Through collaboration, we have also examined the important role natural gas can play in helping China diversify its energy mix. At the same time, it will boost economic development, improve air quality and help reduce carbon emissions.
Shell continues to promote the role of natural gas. Compared with coal, it emits around half the CO2s and less than one-tenth of the air pollutants when used to produce electricity.
As for gas, we aim to reduce the carbon intensity of our portfolio and improve the energy efficiency of our existing operations.
As an energy company that has been in China for more than 120 years, we are excited to be part of the push for green (energy) development. We will also strive to provide more clean energy solutions as the country seeks to better balance economic growth and environmental protection.
As a Fortune 500 company, which sectors offer the most opportunities in China?
Society faces a dual challenge. It needs to make the transition to a low-carbon energy future to protect the environment, while making sure everyone benefits. This ambition requires a change in the way energy is produced, used and made accessible.
Already the transition is under way. It will move at different speeds and produce different outcomes in different countries, depending on local factors.
These will include natural resources and weather patterns, national policies, which address climate change, and local air quality, as well as economic growth. Technology will also be important.
As one of the most committed supporters of the Paris (Climate Change Agreement) goals, China plans to increase its use of non-fossil energy to 15 percent by 2020. Also, the use of gas in the energy mix will rise to 10 percent.
Additionally, a national emissions trading scheme is expected to be launched later this year.
Now, China has the opportunity to leapfrog others and set an example for the world in providing its people with a decent and affluent life while protecting the environment.
At Shell, we are already a willing and able player in energy transition. We have invested billions of dollars in a range of low-carbon technologies, such as biofuels, CCS (carbon capture and storage), hydrogen and wind power.
What are your views about China’s business environment and consumer sector?
In the past few decades, China has achieved historic social and economic landmarks.
Today, the market is going through a transformation. Consumers are moving away from quantity to quality, and the country as a whole is pushing for green development and green lifestyles.
This presents a great opportunity for companies offering high-quality and energy-efficient products. Shell China aspires to become the preferred brand for customers, partners, suppliers and employees.
We are committed to helping China with clean energy solutions. By doing this, we can create shared values for communities and the country.