Mr. Li Hao is Sustainability Manager of Novozymes (China); Tech. Committee member of EPD China.
Since joining Novozymes in 2011, Mr. Li has been working on the transition to sustainability in various industries in China, providing independent sustainability-related studies and assessments for companies in various industries. He has also been involved in several sustainability projects, covering topics such as introducing the UN Sustainable Development Goals into the development strategies of Mainland enterprises, climate change, environmental protection, maintaining biodiversity and educating youth on issues related to environmental protection.
Should you pick up a topic, among the several which characterize your impressive experience that you feel more closely related to the decarbonization mission, which one you could say?
Bio-innovation/Solution is definitly an intresting topic for me, especially when Novozymes is already the world leader in this field. When I joined Novozymes 12 years ago, the first industry I was working at was the textile industry which has made an important contribution to China’s economic development since 1978. As an important export-oriented and labor-intensive industry, the textile industry has played an important role in earning foreign exchange and creating employment. It is also one of first-mover industries to drive sustainable development domestically and globally. It covers adopting new green ingredients and updating treatment processes, reducing chemical consumption and building a transparent, reliable and green supply chain. I have witnessed the significant impacts of enabling sustainability business models in the textile industry on the economy, social and environment. Later I started working on sustainability in other industries, like household detergents. Starch, alcohol and biofuel, beer, food and baking etc. In my opinion, low carbon and green development is a necessity for China’s new era development. The conventional business model driven by natural resource input must be transformed into a sustainable business model in which renewable and green as core. Driving business growth in a sustainable way and enabling green transition is our purpose to China and the world, it is also the goal of my work.
Based on your academic and professional background, what is the main contribution you feel to provide to the worldwide urgency to reduce greenhouse gasses emission?
We learn from nature. We found most powerful biological solutions from the tiniest micro-organisms in nature and apply to industrial and consumer products manufacturing to tackle with the global sustainable challenges. In this process, our biological solutions help to reduce the consumption of fossil-based materials (such as fossil energy) and reduce pollutants (such as waste water and GHG) emission to the environment. It can also help to reduce costs, increase yields and profits, ensure good production conditions and safe use conditions. Finally consumers can get more options for higher quality, multi-functional, green and low carbon products.
Besides, we share our sustainability purpose and best practices with our partners to inspire rethink the sustainability value to business. In China, we have seen many exciting progress, such as hot discussion on ESG, green finance and responsible investment in business world. We look forward to working with our business partners to explore more green opportunities, unleash business vitality, and continuously create the positive impact of sustainable business models
Q: 根据您的经验，中国要实现 “双碳目标”，必须面对哪些主要挑战？
According to your experience which one are the main challenges China has to face to reach its “dual carbon goal”?
Setting science-based target for climate and initiating substantive actions are key to achieve the common goal for climate change. Novozymes has set and publicly committed to climate goals: to reduce 65% absolute GHG emission from opertions and achieve 100% green electricity by 2025, to reduce 75% and 35% absolute GHG emission from operations and supply chain respectively by 2030, hence to achieve net-zero by 2050. Our climate targets had been verified by SBTi.
In order to achieve dual carbon target, more and more Chinese companies will set up climate-related targets and commitments, those targets must be realistic and feasible. We look forward to our biological solutions and sustainability practices can play a critical role in helping customers and partners to contribute to the achievement of China’s dual carbon goals.”
China and Europe have a long history of close and fruitful cooperation about climate change and environmental protection issues. Which are the more peculiar strengths of China and Europe in the path towards decarbonization?
The EU began to explore low-carbon development and sustainable development earlier than China. This could be reflected in the public awarenss on climate issues in public as well as the climate pledges. It also applies for Novozymes. We reached the carbon peak in 2018 and since then we strived to achieve net-zero by 2050 in responding to the call of the Paris Agreement and EU Green Deal.
The challenges China is facing are more comlicated than ever. However China’s dual carbon commitment is solemn and serious. It will create opprotunities in many aspects. Industrial green transition requires green innovations, fulfilling the growing consumer needs also require more breakthrough in green technologies and products.
Novozymes brings the successful bio-solutions to China. We are the first one to apply enzymatic-processing to China Starch industry to replace unsustainable chemical processing method, we applied the combined-treatment process to textile dyeing and finishing process to compact 3 steps into 1 step to save more water and energy. We look forward a future when our bio-innovatin are applied to more industries, from cellulosic ethanol to bio-diesel, from bio-detergent to probiotics, more possibility towards sustainability can be created in China and EU.
More specifically, in your sector of competence, which mechanisms and actions could be implemented to create virtuous synergies between China and Europe to reach carbon neutrality?
A: 生命周期评估（Life Cycle Assessment）作为学术界广受推崇的定量环境评估方法，近年来也得到政府的不断重视。欧盟2013年发起的PEF （Product Environmental Footprint）项目旨在将采用统一的绿色产品评价方法（基于生命周期评估方法学）建立一个统一的绿色产品（欧盟）市场。中国科技部2015年发起的生态设计示范项目中也鼓励生命周期评估方法学在评价绿色产品上的应用。未来，生命周期评估方法学将会在中国实现双碳目标发挥更重要的作用。
As a widely used methodology in academic and business world, Life cycle assessment (LCA) has also received attention from policy makers in recent years. The EU launched the PEF (Product Environmental Footprint) program based on LCA methodology in 2013 aiming to establish a unified green product standard for all EU countries and markets. The Ministry of Industrial and Information Technology of China launched the Eco-design pilot program in 2015 in which LCA has been required as the standard tool for green product assessment. I believe that the LCA methodology will play more critical role in shaping and enabling a carbon neutral future.
Novozymes started to conduct LCA research in 2004. We made LCA research on our own products and the applications of our products in customer side. Based on these knowledge and expertise, we formed the understanding and awareness of sustainability in a lot of industries. As a multi-national company, Novozymes operates both in EU and China. We expect our understanding and insights on these 2 major markets can also help our Chinese partners to reach consensus on green transition and promote the collaboration of climate neutral and sustainable development.
Carbon neutrality is a target which required holistic approach and integrated actions by all the stakeholders. It should tackle not only technical matters, but also new economic development model and social aspects. China Europe Carbon Neutral initiative by its Scientific Committee & Expert Advisory Board aims to be a platform to gather these expertise then share potential solution. Which advices and proposal you feel to share for its development and operation?
I am honored to join the CNEUCN Initiative and work with other Experts’ Committee. It is a two-way opportunity for me to learn and share. I expect to learn from CNEUCN partners on cuttine-edge practices and technology innovation in sustainability, and share our expertise and insights with the network. Novozymes is one of first pioneer companies to integrate the UN SDGs into our corporate strategy and long-term targets. We analyzed the 17 global goals and 169 targets in a holistic way and finally identified 15 categories which are most relevant to us. We build an assessment framework to accelerate those innovations with high potential SDG impacts and set up targets and KPIs for our own operations and buinsess. Since 2022, our sustaianbility strategy evolved into the commitments to a healthy planet – to accelerate climate-neutral society, to transform the food system and to enable healthier lifestyle. I am willing to work with CNEUCN partners and Mr. Massimo (CNEUCN CEO) to explore sustaiable solutions for China.
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China Europe Carbon Neutral Technology aims to support and substantially contribute to China’s path towards carbon neutrality in a holistic and inclusive way by gathering all the stakeholders and creating solutions for each challenge.
China Europe Carbon Neutral Technology will play an active and innovative role in providing services to conceive, shape, design and accomplish the transitions needed to achieve carbon neutrality.