04 February 2021
2021 will be marked by a global race towards the top, closer collaboration with China, soon to be the world’s largest economy in under a decade, whether in academia, low-carbon technologies and renewable energy will usher in a ‘new green era’ in UK-China relations, CBI President Lord Karan Bilimoria will say today (Thursday).
Speaking at the CBI’s Chinese New Year virtual event – an annual event bringing together senior business and political leaders from across the Sino-British community – Lord Bilimoria will say the climate crisis demands an international, unified approach, which can be done concurrently by acknowledging the differences while remaining true to UK values. And whether net-zero is rhetoric or reality will be borne out in November, when the UK will host the upcoming COP26 UN Climate Summit, he will conclude.
Celebrating the Year of the Ox, the 2021 CBI Chinese New Year Event, in partnership with Huawei Technologies, will be attended by Peter Hill, CEO of COP26 and Victor Zhang Vice President of Huawei.
CBI president Lord Karan Bilimoria will say:
“Businesses will take their lead from the UK government. We know there are very real challenges and in a volatile year, the UK’s engagement with China is rightly in the spotlight.
“But this does not mean insular nationalism is the answer. Our generation’s common threats demand common action. Both health and climate cannot be confronted without China; set to be the world’s largest economy in under a decade.
“What businesses need, instead, is a set of guiding principles to help policymakers weigh the priorities of UK citizens, interests and prosperity. And on this question, there can be no doubt. The UK is Europe’s most popular destination for Chinese investment. Over the last two decades, Chinese firms have invested over £45 billion, while our universities welcome over 100,000 Chinese students every year – adding £2 billion to our education sector.
“At a time of record economic losses this is a prize we cannot afford to ignore.
So, the question is not whether the UK engages with China but how best we can collaborate for the good of all? With business at the heart of our shared ambitions respecting our differences while remaining true to our values.”
On the opportunities around COP26, Lord Karan Bilimoria will say:
“This can be a ‘new green era’ in UK-China relations. Much like the covid pandemic, the climate crisis defies national borders. It demands an international, unified approach and whether this is rhetoric or reality will be borne out in Glasgow, in November – at a milestone in UK political history.
“So far, the UK has led the way on climate commitments. Targeting net-zero emissions by 2050, and 68% cuts by 2030. Now, COP holds the prospect of the world’s two largest carbon emitters, the US and China finding areas of genuine common ground. President Xi has already pledged carbon neutrality by 2060. A quiet miracle one we mustn’t underestimate.
“The year ahead will be challenging as the pandemic continues, but with vaccines being rolled out at pace globally there is light at the end of the tunnel. I firmly believe that if we can tackle the covid crisis, and move forward then we can turn 2021 into a genuine opportunity for UK-China cooperation, and low carbon partnership and begin a new ‘green era’ for the years ahead.”
Victor Zhang, Vice-President, Huawei Technologies said:
“Global challenges require global action. At Huawei we believe that we all have a responsibility and a role to play in tackling climate change. We are working hard to position the technology sector to be at the forefront of climate change action. That is why sustainability is a big focus of our R&D in the UK, from our investment in NarrowBand-Internet of Things, to developing better ways to reduce energy consumption within data centres, and other energy harvesting projects. By taking these steps, we hope to take the lead in greening supply chains and improving energy efficiency.”