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CBBC Insights: Environment | Will China’s new plan to curb water pollution bring new opportunities for UK businesses?

BritCham / CBBC
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By Patrik Li
Sector Lead for Energy, Environment & Infrastructure
China-Britain Business Council
 
 
On 16 April, the State Council issued its “Water Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan”, also known as the “Water 10 Plan”. This is the result of cooperation between 12 ministries and government departments, and follows a pledge last year by the Ministry of Environmental Protection that China would spend more than RMB 70 billion (approx. £7 billion) to tackle its water problems. The plan promises a “massive reduction” in serious pollution, strict controls on the extraction of underground water and improvements to the quality of drinking water by 2020. The long-awaited document sets binding targets and deadlines and is viewed by many as the most comprehensive water policy to date.
 
CBBC's sector lead for the environment, Patrik Li, looks at the changes and the implications for British SMEs with an interest in the Chinese water market.
 
Ten ways to clear the muddy waters
China’s water market is as muddy as its streams and rivers. The last policy introduced in 2011 did little to change the dire situation the water system is in, and now, to solve water issues effectively, the Government has to come up with a plan that takes a holistic approach to the problems – to prevent and control pollution from agriculture and industry of both municipal and rural water. It also needs to put a stop to the misuse of water resources across all sectors in order to move the country towards water security.
 
And this is exactly what is envisioned in the Water 10 document, which lists 10 main objectives broken down into 38 actions with responsible government departments identified for each action. Due to space limitations I won’t be able to go into all the details, but I shall point out just a few of the policies that support the Government’s push for clean water:
  • Environmental Protection Law amended and in effect as of 1 January 2015, involving heavy fines and forced closure for non-compliant companies/officials;
  • Guidelines from Ministry of Finance on relaxing private and foreign investment in the water sector and supporting the development of innovative ways of financing “green business”;
  • Consolidation of industrial standards from 600 to 300;
  • Removal of GDP and addition of water management in performance reviews for provinces.  
One of the major issues will be to make sure that officials implement the new policy swiftly and effectively. Cooperation between the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Environmental Protection for example will be challenging as these departments have different and opposing priorities at the moment.
 
What does this mean for UK business?
It is too early to list all the opportunities this game-changing plan will bring for UK business, although companies with monitoring technologies and expertise in water management will clearly be in demand – provided UK Government support for water companies can be stepped up to reflect the severity of the problems China is facing.
 
Chief among them are the proper use, management and control of water resources: the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in 2014 that 280 million people in China do not have access to safe drinking water, while figures quoted by China Daily in May showed that 9.2 per cent of groundwater is unusable even for irrigation. In my view, UK companies familiar with the market should lobby for stronger government support and do more to create awareness of China’s long-term water-security problem.
 
The full set of policies is available online (in Chinese) at: www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2015-04/16/content_9613.htm
 
In early July CBBC will host a webinar that takes a closer look at the Water 10 plan and its implications. Details of this event will be posted at www.cbbc.org/events.
 
For more information, please contact Patrik Li, CBBC's sector lead for energy, environment and infrastructure, in Beijing: patrik.li@cbbc.org.cn.
 
 
“水十条”能否为英国企业开启新的商业机会?
 
行业透视:环境  
作者:Patrik Li(李铂)
英中贸易协会能源、环境、基础设施商务顾问
 
今年4月16日,国务院颁布了《水污染防治行动计划》又称“水十条”。这是继去年环境保护部的承诺投入7百亿人民币的经费来治理水污染问题后,12个部委和政府机关共同合作的结果。
 
该计划承诺,到2020年,将大幅减少水资源严重污染,并严格控制开采地下水和提高饮用水质量。这一被期待已久的文件制定了约束性指标和期限,被人们认为是至今为止出台的最全面的水资源管理政策。
 
英中贸易协会环境产业专家Patrik Li为对中国水务市场感兴趣的英国中小企业解读了这一政策变化及其影响。
 
十种净化水的方法
中国的水务市场几乎和其河流一样浑浊。2011年推出的政策几乎没有改变供水系统的严峻形势。现在,为更加有效地解决水资源问题,政府不得不拿出一个全面的解决方案来防止和控制城乡农业和工业水资源污染问题。同时,政府还需制止各产业的不正确用水,从而保障整个国家的水资源供应。而这些正是“水十条”文件中所提到的。该文件提出10个主要目标,并将其细化为38项行动,分别由不同的政府部门负责实施。介于空间限制,本文中将不赘述细节,只指出一些帮助政府推动水资源净化的政策:
  • 修订的环境保护法将于2015年1月1日生效,其中涉及对政府机构的巨额罚款和被迫关闭不符合规定的企业;
  • 财政部指出将放宽在水务部门的私人和外国投资,并鼓励发展创新方式来资助“绿色商业”;
  • 工业标准从600条降到300条;
  • 在对各省进行审查时去除对GDP的考量并加入对水资源管理绩效的评价。
当前最主要的问题之一就是确保政府有效且迅速地实施新政策。各部门之间的合作,比如水利部和环境保护部可能因为彼此当前的首要目标不一致而给该政策的实施带来一些挑战。
 
当前情况对英国企业来说意味着什么?
面对这个改变游戏规则的计划,尽管现在仍无法明确指出它将给英国企业带来什么样的机会,但可以肯定的是拥有监测技术和水资源管理经验的公司在这一过程中将被大量需要。然而拥有这些技术的英国公司能否进入中国市场仍取决于英国政府对于中国水资源形势严峻性的认识,从而给予这些公司更多的支持。其中最主要的是如何正确使用、管理和控制水资源。环保部在2014年指出,全国有2.8亿人口没有安全的饮用水,并且据今年五月中国日报报道,9.2%的地下水甚至无法灌溉使用。在我看来,熟悉市场的英国企业应当游说更有力的政府支持并且提高英国政府对中国长期用水安全问题的意识。
 
政策全文可点击查看
 
今年7月上旬,英中贸易协会将举办网络公开课,更加详细地介绍“水十条”和其带来的影响。关于该活动的具体信息将在近期放到网上,查看请点击:www.cbbc.org/events
 
欲知更多详情,请联系英中贸易协会北京办事处能源、环境和基础设施行业专家Patrik Li(李铂):patrik.li@cbbc.org.cn
 
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