Viewpoint: China’s Belt and Road Global Infrastructure Plans Are Dooming the Planet
By Sagatom Saha
China has continually assured the world that its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a green project. At the first BRI forum in May 2017, Chinese president Xi Jinping touted BRI as a “vision of green development and a way of life and work that is green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable.” Similar promises were made at this year’s forum in April. However, China has long been the world’s largest exporter of coal power equipment, exporting twice as much as its nearest competitor. At the same time as the first forum, Chinese companies were building an estimated 140 coal plants abroad, including in countries like Egypt and Pakistan that previously burned little to no coal. At the current rate, Chinese coal plant developers will drive energy investments that make it impossible to limit global warming to safe levels. If Chinese development banks continue their current practices, then pollution will inevitably worsen around the world.
Much of what Beijing touts as development assistance for power projects worsens pollution. Nearly 40 percent of Chinese Development Bank (CDB) and Chinese Ex-Im spending on electricity generation has gone toward coal. As a result, the amount of coal-fired generation Chinese policy banks are directly responsible for between 2013, the year that BRI was announced, and 2018 could generate enough electricity to power Norway or Poland.
Photo courtesy of faungg’s photos.