Jing Wu on the New Direction of the Business Sustainability Committee
Continuing the AmCham China Quarterly magazine’s series profiling AmCham China’s Board of Governors members and Committee Co-chairs, we spoke to the Co-chair of the Business Sustainability Committee, Vice President of Public Affairs at UPS China Jing Wu about the Committee’s evolution over the past decade, the decision to focus on climate change, and 2023 plans.
How did you first get involved with AmCham China?
Jing Wu: I think it was a long time ago, when I just started to work for a leading American multinational company back to 2006, almost every US company in China was a member of AmCham China. There were a lot of the events back then, and many professionals got together and discussed about different topics, very good memories.
You’re currently the Co-chair of the Chamber’s Business Sustainability Committee. What Committee activities have you found most valuable to you in your work?
Jing Wu: I was invited to become the co-chair of Business Sustainability Committee back in 2010. At that time, the Committee’s focus was on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), very much philanthropy-focused. Back then, there were a lot of exchanges within the Committee about how to organize volunteer activities in China to support people in need, poverty alleviation and health issues. When AmCham China approached me to be the co-chair of the Committee again, I said yes, but I also wanted to understand the purpose of the Committee in the new era, as the philanthropy part has been very well covered with strong efforts from multinational companies in the past decade. Currently, the focus has shifted to sustainability and climate change issue. With that, together with AmCham China and the chair of the Committee, we talked about how we could make this Committee more valuable to our member companies. Based on the discussion, we defined the new objectives: 1) help member companies better understand the overall policy direction of the Chinese government and how MNCs can adapt and contribute; 2) create a community where member companies could hear from each other and exchange best practices in managing carbon emission and combatting climate change. While sustainability could be a very technical topic, we’ve hoped to establish a solid small group discussion where everyone there has a true interest in this topic.
It’s been a year since we set the new objectives, and we’ve rolled out a set of activities despite the Covid challenges. Earlier this year, AmCham China issued the 2022 Social Impact Reports, which showcased member companies’ efforts in sustainability along with areas like community service, philanthropy, etc. In China, we’ve seen the national strategy shift from poverty alleviation towards rural revitalization, and we want to make sure MNCs continue to have a role to play in that. Recently, we took a delegation to visit a village in Hubei to promote rural revitalization.
We also pay attention to the policy as China set its dual carbon goals, which could potentially affect our business operating in China. Recently the NDRC released a new policy to build a standardized carbon reporting system in China, which will help to better measure the efforts for the 2030 and 2060 carbon goals. AmCham China helped to coordinate a policy debriefing session with the NDRC to help US companies better understand the policy implication to business. We will continue to focus on climate change and carbon emissions to help those companies operating in China to understand what’s going on and what to expect going forward. Coming up, we will organize a session to discuss the business implications of the COP 27.
As a longtime Committee member yourself, how was this shift in the Committee’s focus received by other members? Have you seen the Committee membership grow since you’ve made that shift?
Jing Wu: Definitely. AmCham China provides a good platform for members to understand what’s happening in different industries in China. Sustainability is a cross-industry topic, therefore we have a very diversified industry mix on the Committee. With that, we believe that a large part of the Committee’s value is to provide a more holistic view to help our members understand the recent development in sustainability, and conversely, they could provide industry specific views to better interpret the macro-policies. It’s a meaningful exchange, and we support each other based on our knowledge and expertise.
What would be your advice be to someone who wants to become more involved with AmCham China in general? Where is a good place to start?
Jing Wu: Start joining the events and discussions! You get to experience the charm of our community when you start to meet people, talk to people, and find out how informative the Chamber is. At the beginning of the pandemic, almost every company had issues getting their expat employees back to China. AmCham made a lot of effort to support the member companies, and between members, we were also able to exchange experiences and best practices for getting our employees back in the country. It’s more like a big family, as we support each other during challenging times.
What were some areas that you’d like to the Chamber to focus more on in the future?
Jing Wu: Before COVID, there were more opportunities to hear from guest speakers and experts in-person, which has been missing somewhat due to the pandemic. Many of us have worked in the individual industry for a long time, therefore, it’s always useful to hear from different perspectives. As AmCham China has a lot of members from think tanks or research institutes, it would be helpful to invite them to share their views on policy and overall business environment dynamics.
On the other hand, for the Business Sustainability Committee, we will keep bringing more value to member companies. Through our recent smaller scale activities, we’ve started to recruit core members to the Committee. Hopefully we can have a small group brainstorming session towards the end of the year to hear and better understand what we can do more and better, which will help us to cover a wider group’s interest when planning for next year.
On the topic of COVID, can you talk about the impact of lockdowns in China? How has UPS assisted its customers in stabilizing their supply chain?
Jing Wu: Since 2020, the pandemic has significantly impacted the international logistics industry. However, even during the most challenging times, we have continued to support supply chains and global trade. Back in 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, China was short on PPE, so we started moving huge volumes of PPE and masks to China to support the country’s pandemic control. After the pandemic stabilized in China, we started to see a pandemic wave hit the rest of the world, and we then started shipping large volumes of PPE out of China to support other countries. It was an unforgettable experience, and our operations team really made huge efforts to support business continuity. They dealt with a lot of the new requirements and were on the front lines under the closed-loop management systems.
The pandemic has also proved how important international logistics companies are. We always say that we are an essential service because we provide the support – not just during emergency situations – to ensure that global trade continues. From the customer side, the service aspect became much more difficult. We usually ensure we can deliver packages to customers on time, but with new policies, there were more delays especially at port. We needed to conduct ongoing communication to help our customers understand that we are making every effort to get their packages delivered. It has been very challenging for our industry, but we have heard from many of our customers who really appreciated the special efforts we made during the pandemic to help them – they really trust UPS.
UPS has pledged to achieve carbon neutral operations by 2050. Can you talk about that goal and how UPS is working to achieve them? What are some of the initiatives around sustainability UPS is working on in China specifically?
Jing Wu: Globally, UPS has set very ambitious goals. Our aim is to achieve a lower carbon footprint in a financially and socially responsible way. Driven by integrity, we remain focused on making credible, purposeful changes to adapt and achieve our sustainability goals along the supply chain. As purpose-driven business, we never settle – we are committed to becoming even more sustainable and impactful. That’s why we’ve set a goal to become carbon neutral in our global operations by 2050. We also developed clear roadmaps and interim goals, which includes 40% alternative fuel in ground operations by 2025, 25% renewable electricity in facilities by 2025, 30% sustainable aviation fuel by 2035, 50% reduction in CO2 per global small package by 2035, 100% renewable electricity in facilities by 2035.
Within China, UPS has implemented an “In China, for China” ESG strategy to engage customers, government stakeholders, and employees to achieve a sustainability agenda collectively, supporting the Chinese government’s 30-60 carbon goals. Echoing the country’s agenda on plastic pollution and carbon neutral, UPS China has held a series of Green Post seminars with local associations and partners to help boost the Chinese express industry’s low-carbon transition since 2019.
Today, we’ve made significant progress in our green efforts. Nearly all of our delivery fleet in the downtown areas of Beijing and Xi’an are fully electrified. In addition to the EV fleet, we also use environmentally friendly packaging including tape-free package box, 45mm tapes and RNC bags. Just this year, we announced that we will introduce biodegradable packaging into our operations. Additionally, UPS has established two green operation centers in China: Beijing East Center and Guangzhou East Center. The Beijing East Center was recently officially certified as a “Green Center” by the Beijing Postal Bureau, and 60% of the vehicles at the Center are electric. In the future, these sustainable measures will be spread to more centers in China, and we will continue investing in electric vehicles and using more eco-friendly packaging materials.
We really believe that this topic is important for us in China. Every department is committed to support the company’s sustainability efforts because we really believe it’s a value that must be built into the culture. Everyone needs to be behind it and believe in it, or we won’t be able to take our efforts to the next level. I think we’re heading in a very good direction though, and hopefully we will stay on track and make even more of a difference in the future.