Commentary: Time to create "greener wealth"
www.chinaview.cn 2009-03-09 15:40:19 BEIJING, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Britain's Sunday Times newspaper recently unveiled its first Green Rich List, featuring the world's top 100 tycoons or wealthy families who have made either serious investments in green technology and businesses or hefty financial commitments to environmental causes. Of the tycoons or wealthy families worth 200 million pounds sterling (290 million U.S. dollars) or more, 35 richest U.S. financiers and entrepreneurs dominate the list, most of whom are from the Silicon Valley, followed by 17 Chinese, 10 British and 7 German tycoons. The top two in the list are Warren Buffett, who invested in wind-energy projects, and Bill Gates, who has funded alternative fuels such as oil from algae. In the context of the global economic slump, how come the richest and smartest financiers and businessmen coincide in focusing on "green industry?" And is it a cost-effective choice? The sharp business sense may have been behind their "turn-to-green" decisions. Investors with a strategic vision would not only chase profit from mature industries, but also look forward to the future. Faced with shrinking nonrenewable resources, rising pollution and increased extreme climate change, more and more governments and people have realized that green industry, with the characteristics of high efficiency, low pollution, waste-recycling and energy-saving, would become the world's leading trend in the near future. In other words, those who first acquire updated green technology would gain the upper hand over their competitors in the future. Even amid the continuing global financial crisis, the business elites remain unshaken in their determination. Many IT tycoons are turning to green investments to explore a new frontier, just like what they did to feed the then-infant Internet economy several decades ago. Admittedly, the green investments are also a reflection of the corporate social responsibility of some global riches. Fundamental R&D of green technology calls for large amounts of investment, but the outcome is hard to predict, with a relatively high possibility of failure and making little profit. As a result, many medium-sized corporations are reluctant to get involved. Business tycoons like Buffett and Gates are beginning to turn their eyes to environmental protection and public welfare services. They are willing to make investments in experimental research, which is a laudable move. There are 17 Chinese businessmen on the "green list," who are mainly involved in solar energy and electric-car technology. Unlike the American businessmen who tend to pursue more advanced technology, the Chinese tycoons pay much attention to mass production and application of green technologies. A report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2007 showed that China's solar industry ranked first in the world in terms of size and scale. All in all, the vision of these eco-pioneers offers inspiration and provides us with much food for thought. Firstly, green industry could be a new path for our economy in the face of a raging global financial crisis. Second, green industry could reconcile profit seeking and environmental protection in a harmonious way for the first time in history, thus making development more sustainable. Third, in the face of worsening global warming and pollution, actions speak louder than words. In cooperation with governments and environmental activists, the business world can be reckoned to be a combat-worthy force. The wealth we create could be greener than ever before.