Taking Up the Challenge of Decarbonization in China

Panasonic believes that contributing to decarbonization in China, one of the world’s largest emitters of CO2, can have a significant positive impact on efforts to maintain a green planet on a global level.

According to the latest International Energy Agency data, energy-related emissions in China were relatively flat between 2021 and 2022, decreasing by 0.2 percent (or 23 megatons) to approximately 12.1 gigatons. The overall yearly decline was the first since structural reforms drove emissions lower in 2015. Complementing efforts by government and industry to promote decarbonization, people in general are becoming increasingly more concerned about environmental issues. According to the “National Ecological and Environmental Survey Report (2022)” published in June 2023, the percentage of people surveyed who frequently pay attention to environmental information has increased from 60.8 percent in 2019 to 78.3 percent, and a majority of people are now practicing green consumption and energy and resource conservation in their daily lives.

In 2021, China announced new decarbonization targets, seeking to cap peak carbon emissions in 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality in 2060. “From a broader social perspective, accomplishing these very ambitious goals is a matter of great concern for both foreign and Chinese companies alike,” said Tetsuro Homma, Group Chief Executive for China & Northeast Asia (CNA). The next year, Panasonic Group announced its own global environmental vision, Panasonic GREEN IMPACT (PGI), and since then has been actively working to implement PGI initiatives to address environmental and social problems in China.

For this latest installment in this series of PGI in Action regional updates, Panasonic Newsroom Global caught up with leaders at CNA to learn more about the organization’s approach to implementing decarbonization initiatives in the Chinese market.

Environment Gets Top Billing at China International Import Expo 2023

The 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE 2023) was held from November 5 to 10 in Shanghai, China. According to the organizers, more than 3,400 companies from 154 countries/regions exhibited at the event, making it the largest to date. Exhibitors used CIIE as an important venue for showcasing their corporate strategies and key businesses, with a particular focus on the environment and decarbonization.

“CIIE is the largest trade show in China, and is a key destination for government officials and B2B customers. As the biggest showcase of the year and an important point of contact with our customers, CNA makes the most of the opportunities presented by the Import Expo,” said Shingo Yamazaki, General Manager, Communications Department, Panasonic Operational Excellence China and Northeast Asia (PEXCNA).

Photo: Shingo Yamazaki, General Manager, Communications Department, PEXCNA

Shingo Yamazaki, General Manager, Communications Department, PEXCNA

The environmental message of the Panasonic Group in China is “绿智造 创未来” (literal translation of PGI’s “Green Smart Manufacturing Creates the Future”). CNA’s presence at CIIE 2023 was used to showcase the company’s environmental contribution business, which is a horizontal extension of key business areas such as healthy smart living spaces, new energy vehicle devices, and smart manufacturing. Visitors to CNA’s booth were greeted by a wide variety of products that demonstrate how Panasonic can be instrumental in addressing global environmental issues. Among the solutions on display were the 6C Air Circulation System (an air-conditioning system that achieves both energy savings and comfortable interior spaces), a smart cockpit and other devices that support China’s world-leading new energy vehicle market, and advanced pure hydrogen fuel cell initiatives.

Photo: Panasonic Booth at CIIE 2023

Panasonic Booth at CIIE 2023

Taking Customer-Centric Approach to Air Quality and Energy Solutions

“An environmental issue that continues to hit close to home for many people in China is air pollution. Despite significant progress being made, PM2.5 levels are still very high several days a year,” said Homma. To address this concern, CNA launched the 6C Air Circulation System and other air-conditioning and air-quality solutions that have been designed from the customer’s perspective. The 6C Air Circulation System is an integrated product that balances temperature, humidity, oxygenation, cleanliness, quietness, and wind power, and is equipped with Panasonic’s proprietary nanoe™ technology to provide Chinese customers with comfortable air solutions for a healthy lifestyle.

Photo: 6C Air Circulation System

6C Air Circulation System

In the energy solutions segment, Panasonic has been experiencing growing interest in its pure hydrogen fuel cells. “The government’s current trend for hydrogen use in China is to position it as a fuel for buses and trucks rather than for stationary type use. Panasonic believes that hydrogen is one of the solutions for a sustainable future, and the practical application of our advanced hydrogen fuel cells in buildings and for power generation is a good opportunity to demonstrate its broader potential,” said Homma.

In March 2023, Panasonic launched a demonstration test of a cold/heat/electricity solution using pure hydrogen fuel cells at Panasonic Energy (Wuxi) Co. Ltd. (PECW), a facility in Jiangsu Province that manufactures secondary batteries. The test is the first project using hydrogen fuel cells to be conducted outside of Japan. CNA is currently conducting a unique initiative to demonstrate the overall energy efficiency of fuel cells while simultaneously experimenting with the reuse of hot water produced during the power generation process to produce cold water for the air-conditioning system that cools PECW during the long, hot summers encountered in southern China.

CNA’s promotion of energy and electricity conservation measures had a role in CO2 emission reductions of 2.3445 million tons in FY2022. In addition, the company is strengthening its involvement in businesses that contribute to the environment, such as EV battery remote monitoring technologies and participation in a fund dedicated to investment in environment-friendly solutions.

Promoting Zero CO₂ Factories

“Starting with PECW, CNA currently has nine Zero CO2 Factories,” said Xiangdong Zhao, General Manager, Quality & Environment Promotion Department, PEXCNA. The company is also actively introducing solar panel installations and energy-saving software solutions. Looking ahead, the company will be conducting on-site diagnoses, developing proposals for countermeasures, supporting the implementation of these proposals, and pursuing horizontal deployment to other factories, among other activities.

Local Employees Promote Green Initiatives

In addition to common activities such as turning off lights and conserving water at factories, offices, and other locations, local employees also play active roles within their communities by conducting children’s environmental education, tree planting, and other activities through their workplaces. CNA has been promoting environmental education projects for children since 2009. These creative and engaging lessons help children to broaden their knowledge of the environment while deepening their awareness of what they can do to live more sustainable lives. As of the end of March 2021, more than 1,050,000 students from all over China have participated in these projects.

Photo: Environmental education event for children

Environmental education event for children

The Panasonic Group China Forestry Project was launched in 2013 and has been working with local authorities to plant trees in desert areas in China. Currently, approximately 370,000 trees and shrubs have been planted, adding 2,369 mu (a Chinese unit of area equivalent to 1/15 of a hectare) of forested land and contributing to efforts to control creeping desertification.

Photo: Local employees participating in tree-planting activities

Local employees participating in tree-planting activities

Under its Panasonic Public Welfare Forest program, meanwhile, CNA has planted approximately 300,000 trees in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hebei, Henan, Liaoning, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Fujian, and Hong Kong, among other regions in Northeast, Northern, Central, and South China. This afforestation program has played a role in reducing airborne dust while setting an example for responsible greening and carbon sink projects.

Future Developments and Expectations

“As a provider of lifestyle, town planning, mobility, and supply chain solutions, Panasonic Group in China straddles many different areas of society. In particular, China is an important manufacturing base and market for us,” said Xiangdong. “In China, where climate change response is critically important, we can play an active role in resolving social issues, such as decarbonization, by providing energy-saving solutions and clean energy technologies to B2B and B2G customers, while also contributing to our own business growth and promoting PGI.

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