China’s Belt and Road Initiative will make or break global climate fight

(Eco Business, 21 Nov 2018) Despite its claims of being green, most BRI money is still flowing into fossil fuel projects and traditional transport, evidence from a new WRI study shows.

The world is running out of time to take action and limit the worst impacts of climate change.  The IPCC has issued stark warnings that we have cut carbon pollution by half by 2030 and wean our global economy completely off carbon by 2050.

Meanwhile China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) promises to plough USD$ 1 trillion into energy and infrastructure across over 100 countries. It will play a determining role in shaping the direction of future development, particularly among emerging economies – and whether we meet our climate goals.

Launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, BRI encompasses land routes (the “Belt”) and maritime routes (the “Road”) with the goal of improving connectivity in the region primarily through infrastructure investments. BRI has become a wide umbrella term for China’s foreign policy – its vision of a future world and its place within it.

The new WRI report – “Moving the Green Belt and Road Initiative: From Words to Actions” – remains upbeat. There is a huge opportunity for Chinese investment to support green low carbon development in BRI countries, if it is channelled in the right way, the authors argue. But there is a danger Chinese investment locks countries into fossil fuel intensive polluting development model of decades to come.

The decisions around infrastructure and energy built in BRI countries in the next decade will therefore make or break the global flight against climate change. 

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Eco Business, 21 Nov 2018: China’s Belt and Road Initiative will make or break global climate fight