The Greening of Asia

The Business Case for Solving Asia's Environmental Emergency

Mark L. Clifford

Columbia University Press

The Greening of Asia

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Pub Date: April 2015

ISBN: 9780231166089

320 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $29.95£25.00

Pub Date: April 2015

ISBN: 9780231539203

320 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $28.99£25.00

The Greening of Asia

The Business Case for Solving Asia's Environmental Emergency

Mark L. Clifford

Columbia University Press

One of Asia's best-respected writers on business and economy, Hong Kong-based author Mark L. Clifford provides a behind-the-scenes look at what companies in China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand are doing to build businesses that will lessen the environmental impact of Asia's extraordinary economic growth. Dirty air, foul water, and hellishly overcrowded cities are threatening to choke the region's impressive prosperity. Recognizing a business opportunity in solving social problems, Asian businesses have developed innovative responses to the region's environmental crises.

From solar and wind power technologies to green buildings, electric cars, water services, and sustainable tropical forestry, Asian corporations are upending old business models in their home countries and throughout the world. Companies have the money, the technology, and the people to act—yet, as Clifford emphasizes, support from the government (in the form of more effective, market-friendly policies) and the engagement of civil society are crucial for a region-wide shift to greener business practices. Clifford paints detailed profiles of what some of these companies are doing and includes a unique appendix that encapsulates the environmental business practices of more than fifty companies mentioned in the book.

In this well-researched and ultimately optimistic account, Mark L. Clifford makes the case that environmental policies 'can and must be fixed' and gives us examples of companies that have worked to find private-sector solutions. In doing so, he sheds much-needed light on the workings and future of the region's efforts on the environment and on the need for governments to set clear rules so that business can do its part to solve the region's environmental crisis.

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics

Clifford offers both a definitive accounting of Asia's climate challenge and an inspiring tour of innovative business actions to address the challenge across industries and countries—from Japan to Indonesia, India to China. The Greening of Asia is a call to action: for citizens to press their governments; for politicians to set market-reinforcing policies; and, most of all, for Asian corporations to recognize their responsibility to be in the vanguard of change.

Dominic Barton, global managing director, McKinsey & Co.

The Greening of Asia tells an exciting and important story: how the region's entrepreneurs, businesses, governments, and civil society are transforming old energy, water, and land-use practices to turn congestion, illness, and urban dysfunction into the foundations of durable development. Clifford's keen journalistic skills illuminate the achievements and challenges of many key examples. I recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand how Asia is inventing and speeding a better world for all.

Amory B. Lovins, cofounder and chief scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute

The Asian region has astounded the world with both its economic development and its horrific environmental degradation. Now it is challenged to astound the world with its ability to remedy the massive environmental degradation that has resulted from its economic success. Clifford gives us a lucidly written and information-rich look into both the bowels of this daunting challenge and prospects for successfully confronting it through public–private partnerships in which corporations play as big a role as governments.

Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director, Center on US–China Relations, Asia Society

Clifford is clear-eyed in his analysis and highly practical in his prescriptions for sound government policy, innovative (and profitable) business practices, and effective advocacy and monitoring by citizen groups. This should be required reading for policymakers, CEOs, and all who care about Asia and our fragile planet.

Stephen Heintz, president, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

As a journalist, author and policy advisor who has lived in Asia for 25 years, Mark Clifford has chronicled the ups and downs of Asia's spectacular economic rise with more clarity and insight than any other. With this well researched and thought-provoking book, Clifford now offers the outlines of a blueprint for Asian political and business leaders to follow in order to prevent the Asian miracle being wiped away by the toxic rivers, "crazy bad" air and extreme weather resulting from decades of breakneck growth. Clifford's solution is for the region's dynamic and innovative companies to lead the way to a greener and cleaner Asia. Let's hope the business community carefully reads this book and takes Clifford's advice.

James McGregor, author of No Ancient Wisdom, No Followers: The Challenges of Chinese Authoritarian Capitalism and One Billion Customers: Lessons From the Front Lines of Doing Business in China.

China is primed for its own 'Silent Spring' moment, where its people collectively realize the gravity of their environmental situation and demand aggressive action. In his new book The Greening of Asia, Clifford takes us on a journey that highlights the growing seeds of this discontent as pollution and environmental degradation reaches unacceptable levels across Asia—and shows how at the same time the region is waking up to the business opportunity inherent in moving toward a clean-energy economy. Against the backdrop of China's voracious coal consumption, Clifford makes the case for the end of coal—making this a timely, compelling, and critical read.

Ron Pernick, Founder and Managing Director, Clean Edge, Inc.

The Greening of Asia, compared to the many books on China's environmental challenges, shines most in its clear-eyed analysis of the fortunes of individual enterprises, such as Suntech, the Chinese solar technology company. Clifford's writing is business-like: to the point but in-depth when necessary, and neither brusque nor otherwise off-putting. While many different readers might find this book useful, it has a future as an excellent companion to texts in either law or business schools.

Joel Eisen, Professor of Law, University of Richmond

Picking up a copy of Mark Clifford's new book… is a good way to start the New Year…. [it] is a terrific reminder that innovation and a core commitment to sustainability can push change in transformative ways. That gives us all something to celebrate in 2015.

Elizabeth C. Economy, Asia Unbound

With wisdom and insights sprinkled throughout, The Greening of Asia demonstrates that innovation and a core commitment to sustainability are beginning to build a greener prosperity in the world's fastest growing region.... A well-researched, hopeful book.

Doug Ogden, Asian Review of Books

it is refreshing to see a clear-headed argument... that markets and greenery can go together. Asian companies, he says, are ready to clean up.

The Economist

The Greening of Asia is an easy read and is filled with anecdotes that make the stories come alive. They range from the humorous and light-hearted to the sobering to the downright horrifying, and serve as a reminder that the region is complex, multi-faceted and needs solutions that are as diverse.

Jean Chua, EcoBusiness

Clifford is an astute analyst of the financial dilemmas at Asian companies that are either in "green" businesses or have visionary owners, as at Esquel and CLP, who want to adopt environmentally sustainable policies

Victor Mallet, Financial Times


Preeti Dawra, Mint Asia

Essential reading for policy makers and business leaders considering the effects of climate change on Asia and the rest of the world, including the world's political landscape.... [The Greening of Asia] should be on the shelf of every library.

Introduction: Green Shoots Under Soot-Stained Skies
Part I. Energy: Sun, Wind, and the End of Coal
1. The Sun Kings
2. Blowin' in the Wind
Part II. Our Human World: Cities, Buildings, Wheels
3. Cities in a Garden
4. Buildings for a Greener Asia
5. Asia on the Move: Cars and Trains
Part III. Nature: Forests, Farms, and Water
6. "Water Is More Important Than Oil"
7. The Tropical Challenge: Saving Asia's Lungs
8. "Adhere and Prosper": From Black Coal to Green Power
Conclusion. From Black to Green: Asia's Challenge
Appendix: Companies to Watch

Read "From Black to Green: Asia's Challenge," the conclusion to The Greening of Asia:

Web Features:
Mark Clifford on clean tech and the China equation

Winner of the 2015 Chris Welles Prize from the Columbia University School of Journalism

Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2015

About the Author

Mark L. Clifford is the executive director of the Hong Kong-based Asia Business Council. During his prize-winning twenty-five-year career in journalism, he served as editor in chief of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and held senior editorial roles at BusinessWeek and the Far Eastern Economic Review. He has lived in Hong Kong since 1992.