Less coal, more solar, say citizens of Belt & Road countries

(Eco Business, 26 Apr 2019) Coal projects accounted for almost half of China’s overseas investment in 2018, making the country the world’s biggest funder of coal power development overseas, which threatens to scupper international climate goals.

Citizens of countries participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, strongly prefer clean energy over the coal projects that have become Beijing’s calling card, a new survey shows.

The findings, from a multi-country survey, commissioned by environmental group E3G, were published ahead of an international forum hosted in Beijing for leaders of BRI countries. The survey is the first of its kind to gauge public opinion of foreign investment in energy in these countries.

It found that in six of them — Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam — there was little public support for coal projects. These same countries are among the top 10 for the construction of new coal-fired power plants, many backed by Chinese developers under the BRI.

“This polling provides clear evidence that the citizens of the BRI countries prefer clean energy investment over coal,” said Nick Mabey, chief executive of E3G. “China should now work with governments, business and investors at the upcoming Belt and Road Forum to make sure these demands are met.”

Solar over coal

Coal projects accounted for up to 42 per cent of China’s overseas investment in 2018, according to the China Global Energy Finance database. This makes China the world’s biggest investor in coal power development overseas, which threatens to scupper international climate goals.

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Eco Business, 26 Apr 2019: Less coal, more solar, say citizens of Belt & Road countries