Chinese President Xi Jinping will convene an international forum on April 25-27 in Beijing to discuss next steps for the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s plan to strengthen ties with other countries in its region through infrastructure investments. The forum will include sessions on addressing BRI’s environmental impacts.
"As its massive domestic coal sector faces overcapacity, industrial slow-downs and a 'war on pollution,' China's powerful state-owned companies look abroad," says Jackson Ewing, senior fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. "Chinese firms are providing expertise, equipment and financing to construct coal-fired power plants across key areas of the Belt and Road. These plants help meet immediate electricity needs, but threaten to lock in decades of conventional air pollution and accelerate climate change."
"There are other viable paths, and China can be a change agent by shifting resources further toward non-coal energy systems. Doing so will require strategic directives from influential leaders in China's policy banks, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission."
Jackson Ewing is a senior fellow at Duke's Nicholas Institute of Environmental Policy Solutions and an adjunct associate professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy. He works closely with the Duke Kunshan University Environmental Research Center and International Masters of Environmental Policy program to build policy research collaboration in the United States and China.
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"China has pledged to construct a 'Green Belt and Road,' but these good intentions are not currently being met. This upcoming forum is an opportunity to put words into action," says Elizabeth Losos, senior fellow at Duke’s University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.
"While a daunting task, tools exist for China to invest in infrastructure projects that provide economic growth while protecting the environment and advancing social equity. If China were to undertake early-stage, integrated planning for its BRI economic corridors and incorporate strong environmental and social safeguards into its insurance and lending, it could leapfrog institutions such as the World Bank and become a true global leader in sustainable development."
Elizabeth Losos is a senior fellow at Duke's Nicholas Institute of Environmental Policy Solutions. She explores how to plan for and optimize the environmental impact of infrastructure expansion in Asia, Africa and Europe stimulated by the Belt and Road Initiative.
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(919) 613-4361; email@example.com