February 18, 2020

The Potential Climate Consequences of China's Belt and Road Initiative

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is potentially the most ambitious and widespread international infrastructure development effort ever, involving rail lines, highways, power plants, pipe lines, ports, and more. Among the many concerns BRI is generating around the world are ones coming from the environmental community, reports Yale Climate Connections.

While China is on track to meet its climate goals under the Paris Agreement ahead of schedule, analyses undertaken by a number of government-backed interests, NGOs, and academic organizations worldwide point to direct and indirect environmental impacts—almost all of them harms—from BRI. Nothing engenders more concern than how the Chinese are using BRI to perpetuate the use of coal and other fossil fuels—pretty much everywhere BRI touches, except inside China itself, according to the Yale Climate Connections article.

“China is doing more good things, but it’s not doing fewer bad things,” said Elizabeth Losos, senior fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Losos was the lead author on the study “Reducing Environmental Risks from Belt and Road Initiative Investments in Transportation Infrastructure,” done in conjunction with the World Bank. “The bad things are still greatly outweighing the good things. And I think that’s the concern of the environmental community.”