CPEC-BRI and Green CPC 2022: A Policy Review | By Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan


CPEC-BRI and Green CPC 2022: A Policy Review

Global warming has now become a “new normal” in the world which is producing “devastating” socio-economy, geopolitical and geostrategic consequences.

It is estimated that global warming will reach 2.4°C this century over pre-industrial times, far exceeding the Paris Agreement goal of well below 2°C. However, green policies and technologies may be useful to curb the increasing temperatures in the future in which CPEC-BRI and CPC may play an important role in the future.

Keeping in view, the urgent need of anti-climate change policies, the Chinese President Xi Jinping while addressing the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) promised that China would apply the new development philosophy, foster a new pattern of green development, promote high-quality development and advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization.

In this regard, Xi plans to accelerate the development of a new energy system and play an active role in the global governance against climate change.

Actually, he underscored the positioning of energy transition and new sources of fuel in the country’s future economy, including technologies that underpin carbon capture and hydrogen production.

Hopefully, Xi’s useful comments and commitments about climate change also point to Beijing’s desire for a more influential voice in global climate change policy and negotiations where the global South is expected to ramp up its demands.

He pledged to promote an in-depth energy revolution, enhance clean and efficient use of coal, accelerate the development of a new energy system, and get actively involved in global governance in response to climate change.

In this context, development of Green CPEC & BRI projects may play an important role in the days to come.

The Chinese President upheld his country’s strong commitments of environmental conservation, protection of natural ecosystems like rivers and forests, and the need to adjust the existing industrial structure to control pollution and tackle climate change which is commendable.

He emphasized that policy makers of China must stick to the philosophy that clear waters and lush mountains are precious.

He dubbed that harmonious co-existence of human and nature should be a mission embedded in our development plans.

He suggested that joint and collective promotion of de-carbonization, pollution mitigation, afforestation and reforestation should be pursued as soon as possible.

He urged to prioritize eco-system in national development, save energy and resources as well as facilitate green, low-carbon development.

In addition to this he suggested that a comprehensive and holistic policy should be followed to pursue green and low-carbon development through emphasis on balancing energy transition and the stability and security of the nation’s energy system, and the need to include all-round energy and resource saving, including the use of coal to avoid disruptions.

He mentioned that there should be an active and stable promotion of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality, based on regional as well as global energy and resource availability.

He rightly suggested gradual policies and persuasions of climate change by establishing a balanced approach between the old and new ways and means of energy modernization.

Thus he categorically supported establishing a reliable, renewables-centered energy ecosystem first, before indiscriminately cutting the use of fossil fuels.

He concluded that China’s industrial and supply chains will be made more resilient and secure through further strengthening of national systems for energy production, supply, storage and marketing to ensure energy security.

In response, Beijing has implemented policies to curb emissions and stem further degradation, such as by signing the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate and pledging to be carbon neutral by 2060.

President Xi Jinping has recognized climate change as one of his administration’s top concerns, and Beijing has made a variety of pledges to address it.

These include: achieving carbon neutrality by 2060; reaching peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030; having renewable energy sources account for 25 percent of total energy consumption by 2030; reducing carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon emitted per unit of GDP, by more than 65 percent by 2030; installing enough solar and wind power generators to have a combined capacity of 1.2 billion kilowatts by 2030; and, boosting forest coverage by around six billion cubic meters by 2030.

In this connection, the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Nong Rong, said that China and Pakistan have boosted cooperation in green energy.

Five wind power projects have been completed under CPEC with a total capacity of 300 megawatts and another 300-megawatt solar power project has been completed.

The Chinese envoy shared that more green projects are ongoing under CPEC as the Karot hydropower plant has successfully entered commercial operations and large hydropower projects are also being carried out in the country.

Green and sustainable development is also generating huge employment opportunities in Pakistan. According to statistics, CPEC has created 85,000 jobs for Pakistan.

CPEC has been dubbed as a “people-centric, socially inclusive, environment-friendly and green and sustainable initiative.

With a growing emphasis on green development, China and Pakistan have been working to build a green corridor to focus on areas of agriculture, environment, food, climate change and food security.

“Our two sides are now working to finalise the blueprint of the green corridor to carry out practical cooperation. In this connection, agriculture has been identified as a key area of cooperation.

In this connection, China’s renewable energy facilities and services have become a global leader during the last ten years. Now its 339 cities are enjoying fruits of green energy in terms of qualitative air and environment.

Its green growth has further increased from 14.25 percent to 25.5 percent during 2012-2021 which shows Chinese strong pledges towards climate change threats which should also be replicated on CPEC-BRI projects.

Chinese enterprises have built around 70 percent of global hydropower stations in South Asia, Africa, Central Asia and Middle East regions.

On the green development front, China’s accumulative afforestation area amounted to approximately 59.44 million hectares from 2013 to 2021.

It is also the largest wind turbine manufacturer and a major supplier of photovoltaic components in the world which demonstrates its constant persuasions towards green future and green technologies.

To conclude, the policy-makers of China and leadership of the CPC should promote more low-carbon technologies, from solar and wind power to battery storage and EVs, which are technologically feasible and commercially viable projects in the CPEC and BRI.

In this connection, member countries should provide conducive policy frameworks to support the development of useful projects.

Financial institutions and the domestic banking industry of the member countries should chalk out frameworks such as the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures to measure, manage and disclose their climate risks.

Green finance mechanisms to support infrastructure financing, such as green bonds or green loans, have grown rapidly over the past decade but remain at a nascent stage which should be further accelerated in the CPEC & BRI projects.

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