China: BRI must align with Paris Agreement

Published 2022/05/29

On 28 March, China published a policy document on further greening the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It is the third policy document on this theme issued by the government in less than a year, so one can be excused for finding it difficult to keep up.

The new document – “Opinions on Jointly Promoting Green Development of the Belt and Road” (English translation) – was jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, and the ministries of foreign affairs, ecology and environment, and commerce.

The new Chinese government vision document sets Paris-aligned and time-bound plan for China’s overseas investment, going beyond all the ‘guidances’ released so far

On May 31, 2022 China Dialogue published an analysis of this latest “Opinions” document, in which the authors said:

“To us, three things stand out and go beyond the two previous documents, issued in July 2021 and January 2022:

  • The BRI must be Paris aligned, and China will “facilitate the full implementation of the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement among all parties”, particularly by supporting the energy transition and green transport.
  • The environmental performance of Chinese companies should be “regulated”, with reference made to codes of conduct issued by industry associations, which may be combined with regulations issued by government.
  • A timeline says a green BRI should be “basically formed” by 2030, while by 2025 environmental risk prevention of BRI projects will significantly improve.”

“The language on Paris alignment and green energy systems is particularly important. In our understanding, it means projects in the BRI should be selected and designed such that they are consistent with keeping warming of our planet well under 2C by the end of this century.”

The authors further argued that this “therefore goes beyond the position on coal – made clear by President Xi’s pledge in September 2021 to end Chinese support for new coal power projects overseas – to mean careful assessment of all high-emissions projects. The relevance to humanity couldn’t be greater: the UN has just released a scientific report which shows the world must step up climate action “now or never”, otherwise temperatures could soar by more than 3C, with catastrophic consequences.”

“Given the turbulent geopolitical environment of today,” the authors continued, “it is reassuring to see that China isn’t backsliding on its efforts to green the BRI. And the document is much broader than climate, covering the development of “green” infrastructure projects in power and transportation, industry and manufacturing, as well as green finance and cooperation on standards within the BRI.”

To read the full article go to:…/belt-and-road-must-align…/


On May 27, 2022, China Dialogue published a further article which reported that since China’s intitial announcement in September 2021 to end support for new coal power plants overseas, already at least “15 pre-construction coal power plant projects with Chinese backing (had) either shelved or cancelled, according to a recent analysis by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA)”.

The author noted that “After examining the wording of the official interpretation of the pledge, jointly issued last month by four central government ministries, we found that a further 45 pre-construction coal power plant projects could be re-examined, with the potential for around 70% of them to be scrapped.”

The interpretation document, the “Guiding Opinions on the Joint Implementation of Green Development in the Belt and Road Initiative” (the “Opinions”), also leaves the door open to further cancellations or conversions of coal power projects because it recommends that firms involved with under-construction plants proceed “cautiously”.

The author further goes on to argue that “the official guidance suggests that Chinese companies and banks engaged in “already constructed” coal power projects overseas promote their “greening”, “strengthening” and “upgrading”.

Most operating plants today were built in line with host countries’ often lax emission standards, allowing them to emit dangerous levels of pollution, in some cases more than … China’s own domestic requirements. Adopting international standards or China’s stricter standards for environmental protection, as the “Opinions” state, could see only the highly efficient and least-polluting coal plants remain on the grid as countries move away from coal.”

China’s domestic emissions standards are vastly tougher than those of many BRI host nations – and the new “Opinions” highlight the need to participate more actively in the development of international green standards, to strengthen BRI standards and to publish more industry standards, codes and guidelines in line with international (and Chinese) ones.

To read the full article go to:…/chinas-no-overseas-coal…/

SourcesChina Dialogue

  • May 3, 2022. Authors: Dimitri De Boer, Christoph Nedopil, Fan Danting
  • May 27, 2022. Author: Isabella Suarez