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Airbus joins 'Green Growth' Formation

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European planemaker Airbus is working onambitious programs to ensure corporate sustainability amid China's "green growth revolution", said company president and CEO Tom Enders during the Summer Davos Forum on Tuesday.

"This requires greater central funding to drive key cross-industry research in areas such as alternative fuels, bioscience and nanotechnology, where it is in everyone's interest to accelerate implementation of solutions, avoid parallel research and avoid restricting access."

Enders stressed that there is no meaningful innovation without well-educated, experienced and motivated people.

"We need to invest in education to develop the technological solutions necessary to achieve sustainable growth," he said.

To promote innovation and sustainable development, Airbus needs to embrace the wealth of knowledge and expertise available in emerging economies, he said.

"We need greater cooperation in countries such as China and India to stimulate and inspire innovation on all sides," the Airbus CEO said.

Airbus has already established engineering centers and research partnerships, but would like to see the effort expanded.

The ongoing Davos forum, which ends today, was themed "driving growth through sustainability".

More than 1,500 people from governments, businesses and society participated in the meeting.

Sustainable growth of not only companies, but economies as a whole attracted widespread attention at the forum, with one high-profile economist revealing China would take more vigorous measures to ensure its sustainable "green" development.

China will impose harsher punishments on companies that fail to meet the green development goals, Cheng Siwei, economist and former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said at the Summer Davos Forum.

"By the year's end, factories that do not meet energy-efficiency requirements will be shut down and their bosses will be punished," Cheng said.

The outlook is grim for those who ignore the "green revolution", Cheng said, refusing to disclose details.

China set a target to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20 percent from 2006 to 2010, but had cut less than 15 percent by the end of 2009.

Worse, the indicator rose slightly by 0.09 percent in the first half of 2010, meaning it is facing a severe test in accomplishing its target by the end of this year.

In response to questions whether the country's move toward sustainable growth poses threat to company profitability, Cheng said enterprises that move to a sustainable business model may lose money for a short period of time, but in the long run it is cost effective.

"Companies should actively transform the development pattern and widely adopt low-carbon technologies to enhance their ability to maintain sustainable growth," he said.

As ministers and business leaders gather in Tianjin at the first ever ministerial meeting on innovation and sustainable growth hosted by the World Economic Forum in partnership with China's Ministry of Science and Technology, Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders, who is among the participants, has every reason to be proud of the 40-year development of his company, which has demonstrated to the world that innovation is the key driver of its success.

When the European aircraft manufacturer launched its first aircraft program - the A300 - in May 1969, the commercial jet aircraft market was entirely dominated by the United States.

Today, Airbus is a leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive families of aircraft on the market, ranging in capacity from 100 to more than 500 seats.

From the A300 to the 21st century flagship - the A380, and further to the A350 XWB, Airbus has been continually implementing new ideas. Airbus' global leadership today is driven by constant innovation. "The pioneering spirit of our engineers as well as Airbus' continuous strive for innovationhave made us a global market leader," Enders said.

To maintain continuous innovation to ensure its sustainable growth, Airbus invests heavily in research and technology (R&T).

Since the introduction of jet engine aircraft, the air transport industry has achieved enormous improvements in economic efficiency and the environmental performance of aircraft.

Through innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, Airbus will continue to meet its eco-efficiency goals and ensure that air travel continues to be one of the safest and most eco-efficient means of transportation. That's where R&T comes in.

Working together with governments, industries, research institutes and universities around the world, Airbus focuses on finding the best solutions to some of aviation's most important questions, meeting and even going beyond its customers' and society's needs.

To satisfy these needs, technologies and innovations have to deliver significant improvements, a step-change in efficiency and performance, and benefit and contribute to the growth of the industry on a global scale..

More than 3,000 people at Airbus are working on over 400 R&T projects that have been regrouped into 100 major projects to further improve efficiency.

More than 90 percent of Airbus' annual R&D investment of over 2 billion euros (about US$2.5 billion) has environmental benefits for current and future aircraft. Airbus files more than 600 patent applications each year.

Airbus' R&T efforts are achieved on a global scale.

No one nation working on its own could have achieved what has been collectively achieved.

R&T investment stimulates economies. It is estimated by governments and institutions alike that an investment of 100 million euros (about US$126.8 million) in aeronautic R&T increases GDP by 700 million euros (US$888 million) over 10 years, and has a spin-off effect spurring breakthroughs in many other industries.

Secondarily R&T ensures stability: Investment drives economic growth, creativity and education by reaching the younger generation and encouraging them to choose science and engineering.

Innovation has been a key driver of Airbus' ongoing success and is the key to its future.

(China Daily September 15, 2010)

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