China's concern for the environment is ever growing.

With predicted economic growth of 8.5% in 2009, compared with economic contraction in Canada and USA of 0.5 % and 0.7% respectively, China already faces significant challenges from an environmental and social responsibility perspective. 

Increased pollution and degradation of natural resources are the biggest environmental concerns for China. Last year, China surpassed the USA as the leading contributor to CO2 emissions. China has 20% of the world’s people, but only 8% of the world’s renewable freshwater supply.

Clearly, without addressing these concerns, long–term, positive economic growth will not be viable. And so far, the Chinese green sector appears to be resistant to the current financial crisis with no shortage of capital flowing in. The most recent boost was the central government's economic stimulus package of 4 trillion Chinese Yuan (RMB) (US $585 billion, or CDN $720 billion ), which includes RMB 350 billion (US $51.2 billion, or CDN $63 billion) for environmental projects, such as waste-water treatment and renewable energy facilities. Within the last 12 months, the government has also set ambitious renewable energy targets of 10% of electric power capacity by 2010 and 10% of primary energy by 2020.

One of the policies the Chinese government is promoting is international cooperation in the field of environmental protection. Thus, Raymond Yip, assistant executive director with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, in an interview at the Eco Expo Asia conference and trade fair held in Hong Kong in October 2008, pointed to water treatment, sewage treatment, odour control, and cleaning up harmful factory emissions as areas ripe for technology transfer. 

“We have some homegrown technology, but because of the sheer size of the (Chinese) market, we do welcome opportunities to work with overseas suppliers,” he said.

With the US economy mired in recession for the foreseeable future, and 80% of Canadian exports going to the United States, North American environmental companies would be wise to consider diversifying their customer base, and do more business in Asia. Clearly, the Chinese environmental market is showing a green light for green companies.

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