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French innovation steering Beijing towards carbon neutrality by 2060

Iolo ad Dafydd in Paris

 , Updated 19:51, 02-Feb-2024

With headquarters in one of Paris's industrial suburbs, Schneider Electric is a well-established French company, that has been operating since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution 180 years ago. In the company's Innovation Hub, its products are showcased – and it is where I met Phillip Lund who's worked for the company for more than three decades.

‌"Schneider Electric is based in over 100 countries, and we are a leader in energy management and industrial automation," he said. "We help our clients around the world to manage their energy better, reduce their energy consumption and cost and reduce their CO2 emissions. For our industrial customers, it's to make their automation system, bridging progress and sustainability for all."

‌Phillip is Schneider Electric's eMobility Field Test Leader and explained the difference between energy from renewable sources to coal-fired, gas or nuclear power plants.

As China and France celebrates 60 years of cooperation, his company is already heavily involved in the world's second largest economy. At 29 sites in China, it employs 18,000 staff. Crucially it has five research and development sites in China, for its global operation.


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A‌ big project is working on solutions around decarbonizing. That's jargon for generating and distributing energy with lower carbon emissions. After 2015's Paris Agreement, 195 governments worldwide are trying to curb CO2 emissions, and other greenhouse gases (GHG) to limit the world's average temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius since the pre-industrial period.

Decarbonizing is therefore an essential challenge for companies.

Thibaud Voita, an independent energy consultant, said: "When we're talking about decarbonization of our energy systems, people tend to look at the supply of renewable energy, typically."

Voita is also an associate researcher for the French Institute for International Relations and advises looking at the far trickier demand side of energy too.

He added: "China has an extraordinary amount of policies and achievements, that have been made over the past 15 years on energy efficiency. We need to go further than that. There's a very tricky aspect - how do you reduce, how do you create incentives for end users, individuals like you, like me, like households to reduce their energy consumption?"

As more renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar go online, micro grids and power storage are increasingly necessary. As Phillip Lund told me; "If the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining, you can't use it."

Phillip Lund is helping his company push towards slashing CO2 emissions and boosting sustainability./ CGTN Europe
Phillip Lund is helping his company push towards slashing CO2 emissions and boosting sustainability./ CGTN Europe

Phillip Lund is helping his company push towards slashing CO2 emissions and boosting sustainability./ CGTN Europe

Internationally it's been a tense two years. Tensions and conflict in the Red Sea, Gaza and Israel as well as Ukraine and Russia. Wars in Syria, Yemen and Sudan are paused, but unresolved. In comparison, digital transformation and sustainable development can seem less urgent problems.

But climatic emergencies are happening now to varying degrees across the globe. There's an expectation that if we don't reduce the amount of GHG in the atmosphere, it will lead to an even less predictable future according to Voita.

He said: "This climate of international tensions, is not favorable to promote cooperation; though this is exactly what we need nowadays. You're talking about uncertainties and climate uncertainties are even bigger than these geopolitical issues. 2023 was the hottest year ever recorded."

‌In China, the wider concerns are the same.

Kevin Tu, Managing Director of Agora Energy Transition China and leader on energy projects and climate policies, said: "There's tremendous work to be done in China to move its energy sector from a fossil fuel dominated one to a clean energy oriented energy system.

"If we look at the size of the Chinese energy economy, it accounts for around a quarter of global energy consumption as well as nearly one third of global carbon dioxide emissions. Tremendous efforts and investment need to be made, to ramp up renewable development, as well as other net zero energy sources - including hydropower and nuclear energy."

Schneider Electric exports engineering and technology to many countries worldwide, including China. It will be a key factor in helping Beijing attain carbon neutrality by 2060.

French innovation steering Beijing towards carbon neutrality by 2060

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