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By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – China’s $12 trillion global investment program, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, could surpass the 2C degree warming limit set by the Paris Agreement if no action is taken to decarbonize the program, showed a recent study.

Russian President Vladmir Putin speaks at the second Belt and Road Forum earlier this year in Beijing, Miami Beach, Miami, Florida, News
Russian President Vladmir Putin speaks at the second Belt and Road Forum earlier this year in Beijing, photo internet reproduction.

“It is imperative to act immediately to decarbonize expected infrastructure investments in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, in order to avoid overshooting the Paris Agreement targets and potentially placing the world on the pathway of three degree warming,” says senior visiting Fellow at Tsinghua Center for Finance and Development (CFD) and report co-author, Simon Zadek.

The study on Initiative was conducted by the Tsinghua CFD, Vivid Economics and ClimateWorks Foundation and called for ‘urgent action to drastically reduce future carbon trajectories’ if there is to be any likelihood of achieving the Paris Agreement on climate.

The study sets out a roadmap of how to reduce carbon production, focusing on leveraging financial flows and related policies. According to the authors the Belt and Road Initiative could provide an important platform in mobilizing green investments and promote the greening of the financial systems in these countries.

“China’s Belt and Road Initiative offers a platform for strong action that could support green, low-carbon, and climate resilient development across sixty percent of the world’s population and a quarter of global GDP,” said Tsinghua CFD Director and another co-author of the report, Ma Jun.

The report shows that if B&RCs follow historical carbon-intense growth pattern, this may be enough to result in a 2.7 degrees increase, even if the rest of the world adheres to 2 degree levels of emissions.

Miami Beach, Florida,Map of China's Belt and Road Initiative
Map of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, photo internet reproduction.

The countries in the Belt and Road region now account for 28 percent of global carbon emissions, but on their current trajectory, that could rise to 66 percent by 2050, says Ma Jun, who is also a special advisor to China’s central bank.

Among the report’s recommendations are to establish an international platform (possibly hosted by the United Nations) to support the intensive development of green finance across B&RCs, to extend China’s green requirements to its investments in the Belt and Road Initiative and to promote green investment principles by global investors.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a Beijing-led program, started in 2013 and has the objective of boosting economic integration in 152 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East and the Americas.

The program hopes to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors, improving regional integration, increasing trade and stimulating economic growth. According to officials, signatory countries account for about a quarter of the global economy.

The Belt and Road Initiative will make investment decisions now that could permanently alter the development pathway of China and its initiative partner countries, and the climate outcome for the globe,” says Ilmi Granoff, Director of the Sustainable Finance Program at the ClimateWorks Foundation.

“Capital providers have a responsibility to ensure that Belt and Road countries develop the low-carbon economy of the future instead of the high-carbon economy of the past,” concludes the director.

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