Time for Chinese tech giants to showcase carbon credentials

Chinese tech giants have increasingly been eyeing Hong Kong for a secondary listing. But new environment, social and governance (ESG) rules set by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing mean thpanies will need to strengthen their climate commitments.
The recent update to the HKEX’s ESG rules, which took effect on July 1, stress the responsibility of the boards of companies in overseeing related issues ” the board must issue a statement on the company’s ESG management approach. It also requires disclosure of climate-related issues affecting the company on a “comply or explain basis”, which means if a company fails to make a disclosure, it must provide an explanation.
Listed companies will be releasing their ESG reports based on the new rules as early as November 2021. However, a look at the ESG performances of China’s biggest tech giants shows a significant gap.
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Most Chinese tech giants, including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, have not published any long-term climate strategies or carbon emission reduction goals. In addition, few have published greenhouse gas emissions data.
A Greenpeace report found that data centres in China were powered 73 per cent by coal and emitted an estimated 99 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018. The numbers are set to skyrocket, with electricity consumption from China’s data centre industry estimated to increase by 66 per cent by 2023. Assuming China’s energy mix remains the same, the sector will produce 163 million tonnes of carbon emissions ” equivalent to those of a medium-sized country.
As internet companies abroad double down on climate action by procuring renewable energy and moving away from fossil fuels, opportunities are also emerging for China’s internet giants to purchase clean energy.
China has more renewable energy capacity than any other country in the world, with a solar capacity exceeding 205 gigawatts and a wind capacity surpassing 210GW, more than Europe’s entire solar and wind capacity.
It is time for Chinese tech giants to showcase their climate ambitions, commit to reducing carbon emissions and set renewable energy goals.
Ruiqi Ye, climate and energy campaigner, Greenpeace
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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
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