The Road to a Cleaner, Collaborative Ocean
Norway-Asia Business Summit (NABS) returned to Shanghai, the city where the conference first started, for the eight edition of the event.
This year saw more than 1,000 delegates attend the two-day Summit that was the largest and most ambitious event to date.
The ocean was at the forefront of NABS 2019 and it is something of paramount importance for both Norway and China. Business leaders, government officials and leading experts from each country came together to learn more about how they could collaborate in ways that will accelerate the energy transition and contribute to a healthier ocean environment.
Mr Morten Sten Johansen, Chairman of the Norwegian Business Association China, opened the Summit by expanding on that idea, “Our objective is to provide a meeting arena for decision makers to deliver a sustainable ocean
economy. Maintaining a clean ocean environment is a pre-condition for business and this event can strengthen trade between Norway and Asia.”
Asia is the second most important export market for Norway behind only Europe, but Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, H.E. Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, pointed out that the relationship should not focus solely on business during his speech at NABS 2019.
“Our oceans are under strain. So while we strive for business opportunities, we must also work towards sustainability. The Norwegian government has placed oceans high on our agenda. We need technology and new solutions, but business has to be committed to helping us find these,” he said. “Norway will continue to be a leading ocean nation, but we must be even more environmentally conscious and work towards digitalisation since this is the future.”
There is potential for these efforts to support China’s attempts build its green economy. The country has already initiated a few initiatives as part of this movement.
“In China, we began thinking about green finances in 2014. It started with the 14 steps to build a green financial eco-system that were adopted by the government in 2016. At the time it was the only over-arching green financial system in the world,” Mr Ma Jun, Chairman of Green Finance Committee of China Society of Finance and Banking and Member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the People’s Bank of China, explained.
China’s energy transition was a key topic throughout NABS 2019 and Madame Li Yalan, Chairperson of Beijing Gas Group and Chairperson elect of International Gas Union, noted that there were a lot of opportunities for the two countries to work together.
“There are no limits on foreign investment in the LNG market and we welcome greater Norwegian involvement,” Li told the NABS 2019 audience. “Norway also has experience with new energies, like wind, where we still have a lot to learn. We hope to better understand by collaborating with companies in the renewables sector.”
Madame Li’s keynote speech was followed by H.E. Rikard Gaarder Knutsen, Norwegian Vice Minister of Petroleum and Energy, who stressed the importance of the energy transition.
“We want to use our energies in the most sustainable way possible. Our history has given us experience in this. We are also moving forward in the petroleum sector. Emission reduction and new technology investment to accomplish this must be incentivised,” Minister Knutsen said.
This comment came during a panel discussion that looked into new business opportunities that could come about because of the energy transition. All the panellists thought China could reach zero carbon emissions and find ways to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.
“China shares a sustainable vision with many countries. The EU has targeted zero carbon emissions by 2050 and China will soon submit its own zero carbon emission strategy. However, we have a lot to learn from Norway in order to reach this target,” Mr Li Junfeng, Secretary General, China Renewable Energy Industry Association, noted.
These potential partnerships and knowledge sharing opportunities will have a strong foundation to build upon with China already starting the energy transition process.
“We are already seeing China leading the way when it comes to the energy transition. Coal usage will decrease, oil demand will decrease while LNG will stabilise and be a part of the energy mix. Eventually twothirds of electricity will be powered by renewables,” Liv Hovem, CEO, DNV GL – Oil & Gas, reported.
The second major session at NABS 2019 focused on sustainable ocean business with Norway’s Special Envoy to the Ocean, Mr Vidar Helgesen, touching on both the dangers of climate change and the benefits China and Norway could realise by collaborating on solutions to this problems.
“Climate change is impacting the oceans in unpredictable ways. This causes challenges, but we now know that the ocean and ocean businesses hold the solutions,” Mr Helgesen pointed out. “We know the ocean holds a lot of benefits when it comes to renewable energy, fishing and a host of other sectors. What we need to do is maximise these benefits. Norway and China can use our expertise in the individual fields to create oceancentric solutions.”
NABS 2019 then broke into smaller sessions focusing in on various topics covering energy, shipping, technology, digitalisation and business. China’s growing use of LNG was mentioned at multiple seminars.
“LNG is a solution for water transportation and China started building up an LNG fleet in 2012. The government is providing incentives for LNG and we will hopefully see more movement towards LNG in the future,” Mr Ji Yongbo, Director, China Shipping Technology Research Center of China Waterborne Transport Institute, Chinese Ministry of Transport, reported.
The use of LNG in shipping is part of China’s goal to reduce emissions and clean up its coastal areas.
“Roughly eight percent of China’s emissions comes from shipping and we have already worked on LNG shipping and hybrid shipping to help reduce this. The government implemented the Domestic Emission Control Areas in 2015 with the goal of cutting emissions starting with core ports. In 2019, the program will be assessed and possibly expanded,” Mr Xu Guoyi, Director General, Commission Office of Shanghai
Combined Port (COSCP), said.
But using LNG is just a start. According to Mr Egil Haugsdal, President of Kongsberg Maritime, digitalisation has an important role to play when it comes to creating sustainable ocean solutions.
“In Norway, 99 percent of cows are connected, but nowhere near that amount of ships are connected. We need the next generation of shipping so we can start enacting positive changes. Digitalisation in shipping can solve environmental issues. We already have the technologies in place elsewhere, it is just about connecting them,” he pointed out.
Offshore wind is another sector where both China and Norway are leaders. A special session hosted by Innovation Norway and the Chinese Wind Energy Association, provided a look into what both countries were doing in the field.
The second day of NABS 2019 began with a look at China’s role in the global economy organised by The Economist.
“It is possible that there is a push for a friendlier business environment and greater reforms that support investment in China which would have a positive impact. These reforms need to address the concerns of the international business community. The Foreign Investors Law will help ease some of these concerns,” Ms Mary Boyd, Director at The Economist Corporate Network in Shanghai, told the audience.
On the first day of the NABS 2019, there was signing between Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) and Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) to launch entry services into China for Norwegian companies via DI Asia Base. On the second day, the two organisations spoke more on the importance of having a local footprint.
One of the most poignant sessions hosted during this year’s NABS covered how women can become more involved in leadership as we enter the digital age.
“Women remain underrepresented in digital sectors and we must work to reduce it. Having more female representation in the digital arena can bring much needed insights and a new perspective to businesses,” Ms Heidi Wiig, Associate Dean BI-Fudan MBA Program and Professor at BI Norwegian Business School, explained.
The NABS 2019 was the largest in program history and showcased both the strength of the relationship between Norway and Asia as well as the potential to further cultivate it. With the tools and technologies required to achieve a cleaner, sustainable ocean already available, greater collaboration will ensure it is implemented swiftly.