China’s Belt and Road Initiative could lead to 3°C global warming, report warns

(Eco Business, 2 Sep 2019) Greening the financing of a US$12 trillion development project that promises to help 60 per cent of humanity is necessary to avoid runaway climate change, a new report by Tsinghua University has cautioned.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in history, promises to improve the lives of 60 per cent of the world’s population by investing US$12 trillion in roads, railways, ports, power stations, and telecommunications links in 126 countries, from South America to Southeast Asia, over the next 30 years.

But if that investment is spent on carbon-intensive infrastructure such as coal-fired power stations, steel and cement production and traditional transport, the world could be set on the path for near-3 degrees Celsius warming, a report co-authored by prominent Chinese environmentalist Dr Ma Jun has warned.

If the global temperature increases by that amount by the end of this century, a catastrophic chain of climate events will be set off that could lead to extreme water and food shortages and global agricultural failure.

The Decarbonising the Belt and Road: A Green Finance Roadmap report is the first study into the warming story behind China’s historic development project.

It used economic growth projections to calculate energy demand and emissions increases in key BRI countries, and concluded that greening BRI financing is critical to avoid climate-damaging development in countries already feeling the effects of global heating.

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Eco Business, 2 Sep 2019: China’s Belt and Road Initiative could lead to 3°C global warming, report warns