Sign up for a daily newsletter defining what matters in business and markets

Stories

The climate stakes of China's Belt and Road initiative

Adapted from a Mercator Institute for China Studies map; Map: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Yale Environment 360 has a cautionary look at the emissions stakes of China's Belt & Road initiative (BRI), the massive collection of infrastructure projects that spans several continents.

Why it matters: The multi-decade project formally launched in 2013 aims to project China's economic interests through a network of infrastructure projects that include shipping ports, railways and highways, Isabel Hilton, writing for Yale Environment 360, argues: "BRI has the potential to transform economies in China’s partner countries. Yet it could also tip the world into catastrophic climate change."

Where it stands: She notes that the project will "absorb massive amounts of concrete, steel, and chemicals, creating new power stations, mines, roads, railways, airports, and container ports, many in countries with poor environmental oversight."

  • But her biggest focus is on the initiative's connection to Chinese-backed plans to expand coal-fired power construction in other countries — even as it takes steps to curb domestic air pollution and carbon emissions.

The big picture: "China may be pursuing eco-civilization at home, but it urgently needs to address the global risks it is creating in the Belt and Road Initiative," Hilton writes.

Go deeper: The staggering scale of China's Belt and Road initiative