Building a green and sustainable Belt and Road

By Hu Biliang

The electricity consumption per capita in Belt and Road participatingcountries is less than 2,000 kWh each year, which is far less than the global average, indicating exceptional energy indigence. China is promoting energy transition in partnership with other participants to build a green, low-carbon and sustainable Belt and Road. Its basic stand is togenerate more renewable energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  

Pakistan is a prime example. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a landmark project under the Belt and Road Initiative, is focused on building power plants, which constitute more than 60 percent of CPEC projects. These plants are a mix ofhydropower, solar, wind, nuclear energy and some coal-fired projects. 

There are several hydropower plants, such as the Karot Power Project on the Jhelum River in east Pakistan, which was the first investment project of the Silk Road Fund created to finance Belt and Road projects. Many wind power projects have already been put into use.  

Additionally, China National Nuclear Corp. built two nuclear power stations, K2 and K3, inPakistan’s commercial capital Karachi, using Chinese proprietary third-generation nuclear technology, including the Hualong One reactor. A 100-MW solar plant in eastern cityBahawalpur is also part of the CPEC power projects. 

While China and Pakistan have collaborated on some coal-fired power plants, these projectshave used advanced technologies to keep emissions and costs controlled.  

In October 2020, soon after President Xi Jinping announced at the General Debate of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly that China would bring its carbon emissions to a peak before 2030 and become carbon neutral before 2060, the Chinese Government issued a climate financing guideline, which said coal-related construction projects would be strictly limited.  

Months before that, the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, and the National Development and Reform Commission updated the list of projects that are eligible for green bonds, scrapping those using traditional fossil energy.  

China’s carbon market is the second largest in the world, having traded over 400 million tonsof carbon dioxide emission quotas since its inauguration. 

The author is executive dean and professor of the Belt and Road School, Beijing Normal University 

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