The first dialogue of the China-Europe-America Net-Zero Transition Platform took place on December 20, and gathered 40 speakers from 10 different countries.
As a part of the China-Europe-America Global Initiative, the conference on net-zero transition highlighted the importance of the partnerships between governments, the private sector, and the civil society, and it also pointed at the significance of the synergies between China, Europe and the US.
In the words of David Gosset, founder of the China-Europe-America Global Initiative, who chaired the opening ceremony, "the gathering aimed to be a part of a momentum which after the Kunming conference, the G20 chaired by Italy, and the COP26, unified us in the fight against climate change, for sustainable economic activities, and the protection of biodiversity." Gosset added that "when China, Europe and the US work together, they can solve the most complex problems, and contribute to the advancement of mankind."
In his address to the opening of the online international gathering, Laurent Fabius, former French Prime Minister, and one of the protagonists who made the 2015 Paris COP21 a historical success indicated what is at stake: "Environmental challenges are not a figment of our imaginations but the key issue of mankind's future."
Du Zhanyuan, president of the China International Publishing Group, Javier Solana, former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Irina Bokova, former Director-General of the UNESCO, echoed Laurent Fabius' concern and called for international cooperation and partnerships to fight climate change. Javier Solana connected climate change with security. "One of my main worries for the future of humanity is whether we will be able to cooperate in tackling the climate crisis – our greatest threat to international peace and security", the former top EU diplomat said. Former Director-General of the UNESCO Irina Bokova not only pointed at the relevance of the conference, but she called for the advancement of practical solutions to win the fight against climate change.
Ending the opening ceremony, Gian Maria Gros-Pietro, chairman of Intesa Sanpaolo explained the importance of green finance in order to succeed in the transition towards sustainability. The leader of one of Europe's largest banks explained: "Financial institutions will have a primary responsibility for channelling private and public savings, market and sovereign financial resources, towards sustainable goals."
Chaired by Martin Rune Hoxer from Innovation Center Denmark, the first session discussed energy transition and the imperative of sustainability. On this occasion, the activities of the Paulson Institute were introduced by Deborah Lehr. She explained that the Institute founded by Henry M. Paulson, former US secretary of the treasury, aims at better US-China relations and focuses on climate change and biodiversity. Deborah Lehr insisted on the necessity to mobilize the private sector to reach the net-zero goal. Marco Alverà, CEO of SNAM, presented his views on hydrogen and the solutions developed by his company. For him "what has emerged from this year's (international) meetings is also a consensus that we will need hydrogen to get to net zero (...) Hydrogen could reach up between 15 to 25% in fully decarbonized mix by 2050."
Xu Hao, vice president for sustainable social value at Tencent, introduced the responsibility that technology companies have for the transition towards low carbon emissions economy.
Wang Zhen, president of Energy Economics Institute at CNOOC, Dorthe Lange, from the Danish Embassy in China, Frank Wang, secretary general of China Neutrality Forum, and French corporate strategist Jean-Philippe Raynaud enriched the discussion from the business perspective, the government angle, and the civil society.
Chaired by William Wang from emlyon business school, the second session covered the themes of smart transportation, new materials, and sustainable designs.
Li Donghui, CEO of Geely and Lars Robert Pedersen, deputy Secretary General of BIMCO, the Baltic and International Maritime Council, presented their views on smart mobility.
Solvay's Pascal Chalvon Demersay and Caroline Cheng, co-founder of Yi Design, discussed the immense potential of new materials. Solvay's senior executive connected smart mobility and the chemical and material industry while indicating the scale of what has to be achieved: "With close to 50 million electric, hybrid, or hydrogen vehicles expected to be produced per year in the world by 2030, the chemical and material industry is an essential piece in the overall puzzle of this huge mobility transformation."
The CEO of Global Fashion Agenda, Federica Marchionni, and designer Aldo Cibic, highlighted the imperative of sustainability in the fields of fashion and design.
Bernard Dewit, chairman of the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, chaired the third session around the topic of "indispensable green finance". Two banks were represented in what was a pivotal panel. Zong Liang, chief researcher at the Bank of China, and Alicia García-Herrero, chief economist for Asia-Pacific at Natixis, both reinforced the idea of green finance centrality.
G. Bin Zhao, senior economist at PwC, added to the conversation on what is a condition for the transition to a low-emissions global economy. The New Development Bank, a pioneer in green finance, was represented by its vice president, Leslie Maasdorp.
While Vincent Hieff, consul general of Luxembourg in Shanghai, explained the unique role that his country plays in the field of green bonds, Edmond Alphandéry, former French Minister of Economy and Finance, developed the ideas he is supporting in the framework of the Task Force on Carbon Pricing.
The fourth and last session of the 2021 China-Europe-America Net-Zero Transition Platform, was chaired by Eric Li, vice chairman of the China Forum at Tsinghua University. Centered on "government initiatives and business investment in decarbonization", the session explored the role of public-private partnerships.
Erik Berglof, chief economist of AIIB, Siddharth Chatterjee, UN resident coordinator in China, Freeman Shen, CEO of WM Motors, Roberto Pagani, science and technology counselor at the consulate general of Italy in Shanghai, Wendy Du, STOR-H director for Chinese affairs, and Frank Thorpe, managing director at BYD UK, illustrated the importance of the synergies between different governmental levels and the market forces.
The presence in the closing ceremony of Giamberto Giraldo who leads Yi Tsai in Qingdao signaled once again the importance of the financial sector. Joan McEntee, former under-secretary in the US Department of Commerce, indicated that despite all the difficulties, progress is being made on the path to a greener economy. Ambassador of the China-Europe-America Youth Program, Cecily Liu emphasized the role of youth as a catalyst for progress.
In its conclusion, Yu Yunquan, president of the Beijing-based Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies, knowledge partner of the event, pointed at the importance of dialogue and cooperation for solving the environmental issues that we collectively face.