Shift in Chinese energy investments set to help Greece reach climate targets

(China Dialogue, 17 Dec 2020) China’s engagement in the Greek energy sector was mainly directed at Piraeus port and fossil fuel power, but this is shifting following Greece‘s setting of a coal phase out date.

After years of lagging behind other European countries in transitioning away from fossil fuels, Greece took a major step in September 2019 when it committed to phase out coal power by 2028 as part of its effort to reach climate neutrality by 2050. Chinese investments in its clean energy sector will be key to getting there.

Since the two countries signed a strategic partnership treaty in 2006, Chinese investment has been growing in Greece. Much of it was initially directed towards technology and communications. Later the development of the Port of Piraeus became the flagship investment, after Chinese cargo company Cosco Shipping became the majority shareholder in the newly privatised port in 2016.

As Piraeus is a key entry point for Chinese goods into the European Union – an important gateway from Asia to Europe – that investment is likely to affect shipping and the port’s infrastructure for years to come. Cosco is moving ahead with an ambitious expansion of the port and its logistics capacities as part of a new master plan. Piraeus has already attracted the interest of global cargo and shipping giants, which have signed agreements with the new owners. But Cosco’s investments have been met with continuous demonstrations, strikes and complaints from locals who feel that the expansion is threatening their local market.

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China Dialogue, 17 Dec 2020: Shift in Chinese energy investments set to help Greece reach climate targets