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UPDATED: November 24, 2011
Low-Carbon Innovation Promoted among Chinese SMEs

Climate Solver, a program created by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the globe promote low-carbon innovations and tackle climate change, was launched in China on Wednesday.

First launched by WWF Sweden in 2008, the project aims to select technologies with the highest environmental and business values in the fields of living, transportation and energy production among China's SMEs, and to provide wide and continuous support for them through WWF's network and resources, according to the WWF.

WWF will work with its four partners, including Jiangsu Productivity Promotion Center and Baoding National Development Zone, to find potential climate solvers in China. The project will cooperate with the government to create an enabling policy and financial environment for developing, transferring and spreading low-carbon innovations and technologies of enterprises if they become climate solvers, WWF said.

"SMEs, with flexible mechanisms and strong innovation abilities, today are the main drivers in many, if not most countries of not only GDP growth, employment, and tax revenue, but also technology innovation," said Jim Gradoville, chief executive of WWF's Beijing Office.

SMEs will play a role in the transition into new global energy system where renewable energies represent a majority of energy supplies, he said.

In 2009, over 60 percent of China's GDP and 80 percent of its employment were provided by SMEs, which also accounted for 66 percent of the patents and 82 percent of new products brought to market, Gradoville said, quoting official data.

However, Chinese SMEs face great difficulties in promoting low-carbon innovation and development. A report released by the Institute of Policy and Management with Chinese Academy of Sciences along with the launching ceremony showed that SMEs, which account for 99 percent of China's businesses, are the country's major energy users and sources of industrial pollution.

Due to a lack of loans and other financing mechanisms, insufficient public services and policy support and relatively backward production techniques and equipment, China's SMEs lag far behind in the government's energy-saving and emission reduction targets, the report said.

China aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent, and hopes to increase the proportion of consumption of non-fossil fuels to the consumption of primary energy to 15 percent by 2020 as compared with that in 2005. The country has also included this as a compulsory indicator in its medium- and long-term program for national economic and social development.

"Today, together with the escalating economic crisis in the eurozone and weak demand in the U.S., Chinese SMEs are experiencing a cold winter comparable to, or even worse than that of 2008," Gradoville said.

"In an era featuring low-carbon development, we may not have a future without the innovations of SMEs," said Li Junfeng, deputy director of the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner, at the ceremony.

Innovation in the country's large firms, especially the state-owned enterprises, is limited. But the innovation motives and pressures for SMEs are different from large firms, as they don't have market guarantees and monopoly resources, Li said.

"They will fail to survive without innovation. That's why we call on SMEs to make innovations," he said.

WWF will form a panel of experts for an initial screening and selection of potential climate solvers in China and introduce a third party to evaluate carbon dioxide reduction potentials.

The first batch of climate solvers will be announced around May, 2012, and after that WWF will select climate solvers every year.

(Xinhua News Agency November 23, 2011)

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