Green CPEC, BRI & CPC: From Vision to Policy & Persuasions | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

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Green CPEC, BRI & CPC: From Vision to Policy & Persuasions

Now green development pursuits have passed through from the Chinese political galleries to the fields of applied economics. The Chinese President Xi Jinping has already “transformed” the Chinese political lifeline, the “Communist Party of China (CPC)” and its mega projects of the 21th century “One Belt One Road Initiative (BRI)” and “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)” for gearing up green development. Of course, green/greening has become one of the most important state’s policies of China.

In this regard, green development of the CPEC is boosting local employment and skill uplift in Pakistan and also enhancing Pakistan’s green and sustainable development capacity. It is an important pilot project of the BRI which promotes the construction of green infrastructure, the development of green technology and green finance in the country. Additionally, green development cooperation between the two countries has been getting momentum and has already completed five wind power projects, one solar power project and one hydropower project, besides three hydropower projects under construction. Hopefully completion of these green energy projects would change the energy mix, efficiency, productivity, capacity and utility and would also create a healthy impact on the environment in the country.

The Chinese President Jinping Xi has also announced a “paradigm shift” in the energy projects of the BRI. He has now completely discarded coal projects in all the BRI member countries which are good omen. China is the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and EVs which is now well placed to help deliver low-carbon technologies to BRI’s Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs). China has pledged to step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy and not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.

Moreover, the Green Investment Principles (GIP) for the BRI was initiated in 2018 to accelerate green investments in the member countries. Its three-year “Vision 2023” action plan calls on signatories to assess and disclose strategies for managing their climate risks, set green investment targets, commit to phasing out carbon-intensive investment and invest in the growing pipeline of green BRI projects. It has now more than 41 signatories holding or managing combined assets in excess of $49 trillion and providing significant funding to BRI projects. Signatories represent 15 countries and regions in Asia, Europe and Africa, and include commercial, investment and policy banks, insurers, and BRI investors and project developers.

Since 18th CPC, China put forward a new development philosophy focusing on innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development in the country and also in all the BRI member countries. Since then, China has constantly followed a holistic and systematic policy to conserving and improving mountain, water, forest, farmland, grassland and desert ecosystems which is now paving its huge socio-economic and climate dividends. In this regard, the Xi integrated and holistic policies and resolute determination and result-oriented governance, China has, therefore immensely improved its ecological conservation systems, advanced the critical battle against pollution, and achieved solid progress in promoting green, circular, and low-carbon development in the country, region and all the member countries of the BRI.

Fortunately, China has succeeded to achieve the biggest rise in forest density, and is now home to the largest, afforested area in the world. The size of China’s newly-added green coverage accounts for one fourth of the global total which should also be replicated in all the projects of the CPEC so that real change would be secured and sustained in the days to come. Interestingly, China’s carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP have dropped by 34.4 percent. The share of coal in primary energy consumption dropped from 68.5 percent to 56 percent.

According to the Chinese data (2022) in 2021, China’s total renewable energy use reached 750 million tons of standard coal, reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 2.1 billion tons. Furthermore, as a key contributor to the Paris Agreement, China pledged to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, and to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

It seems that China promotes green development as the inevitable path towards modernization and qualitative development. China’s overall objective and work plan of green development for the next phase has been formulated in the report of the CPC’s 20th National Congress.

It consists of improvement in the industrial structure and the energy mix through implementing a conservation strategy and upgrading the policies and systems of standards to boost green and low-carbon industries. By achieving this goal green consumption will be encouraged to advance green and low-carbon ways of production and life through accelerating the R&D and application of energy-saving and carbon emission reduction technologies.

The Chinese policy makers will continue to control pollution in a lawful, targeted, and science-based way. The environmental infrastructure will be upgraded and living environments in both urban and rural areas will be improved. It will carry out major projects for preserving and restoring key ecosystems to enhance diversity, stability, and sustainability in its ecosystems. In this connection, major biodiversity protection projects and large-scale greening programs will be initiated. Last but not least, China will work actively and prudently toward the carbon goals. It will better control the amount and intensity of energy consumption, particularly of fossil fuels. Therefore, green, low-carbon, and high-efficiency energy use will be institutionalized. Hopefully, it will bring the green energy revolution and speed up the planning and development of a system for new energy sources.

To conclude, there is an urgent need to form a “Green Energy Corridor (GEC)” under the flagship projects of the CPEC in the country. Both countries should also jointly work for “Climate Justice”, constant reduction of carbon footnotes and ultimately achieving the end goal i.e. carbon neutrality in the days to come. Both countries and all the private companies should pledge to facilitate “Transfer of Technology Mechanism (TRM)” in all the energy (green) projects in the country. In this regard, the government of Pakistan has already requested to facilitate the TRM in solar planes production in the country.

Interestingly, both countries have boosted cooperation in green energy. Under the CPEC, five wind power projects have been completed with a total capacity of 300 megawatts and another 300-megawatt solar power project has been completed. Projects such as the Karot hydropower plant, SK and the Matiari-Lahore power transmission line have helped in reducing energy loss and improving efficiency.

It has multiplier socio-economic effects. CPEC green and sustainable development is also generating huge employment opportunities in Pakistan. According to statistics, CPEC has created more than 90,000 jobs for Pakistan till date.

It is suggested that the framework/domain of the proposed green energy corridor should be extended to diverse sectors of the economy including agriculture, environment, food, climate change, and food security under the flagship projects of the CPEC. Furthermore, the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones should also be transformed into green energy.

Sincere and integrated efforts should be started so that domestic businesses, industries and production centers should be moved towards green renewable energy to reduce emissions, lower energy costs, and improve eco-friendliness in the country under the CPEC Phase-II projects. In this regard, massive digitization, energy-efficient integrations, and green solutions that overcome the intermittency in renewable energy production should be started as soon as possible. In this regard, “Green Hydrogen Shift (GHS)” will be a game changer between two countries. Production of EV and Lithium batteries should be started as soon as possible. In this regard, mobilization and channelization of domestic banking industry assets would create a “strategic financial cushion” for the country to promote green energy development.

Moreover, issuance of innovative “Green Bonds”, “Green Financial Derivatives”, “Green Saving Certificates” and “Green Artificial Intelligence Centers” would revolutionize Pakistan’s economy, agriculture, industry, production centers, society and last but not the least, environment in the days to come. Rationale policy formation and consistency of green structural reforms are the way forward in the CPEC Phase-II in the country.