23.6 C
New York
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Biden’s focus on climate change could turn up the pressure on China’s mega infrastructure program

  • China's massive Belt and Road Initiative has been criticized for financing and building infrastructure projects that harm the environment.
  • Beijing has said it would focus more on cleaner projects under the Belt and Road Initiative — but it has little concrete results to show so far, said analysts.
  • U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's focus on fighting climate change could make it harder for China to "greenwash" its mega program, said Jonathan Hillman, a senior fellow at American think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Workers take down a Belt and Road Forum panel outside the venue of the forum in Beijing on April 27, 2019.Greg Baker | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's pledge to prioritize fighting climate change could turn up the pressure on China's massive Belt and Road Initiative — which has been criticized for financing and building infrastructure projects that harm the environment.

"Strong U.S. leadership for addressing climate change will make it harder for China to greenwash the Belt and Road," Jonathan Hillman, a senior fellow at American think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CNBC via email.

Launched in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative or BRI is an ambitious program to build physical and digital infrastructure that connect hundreds of countries from Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Many critics consider the initiative Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature foreign policy to expand his country's global influence.

Strong U.S. leadership for addressing climate change will make it harder for China to greenwash the Belt and Road.Jonathan HillmanCenter for Strategic and International Studies

Energy projects — many of them fossil fuel power plants — have been the center of the initiative. China has over the past few years said it would focus more on cleaner projects, but analysts said the country has few concrete results to show so far — which opens an opportunity for the U.S. to hold China accountable.

Pressure from the U.S.

Biden has said the U.S. will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, a global pact forged in 2015 among nearly 200 nations — including China — to fight climate change. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement on Nov. 4 last year.

While campaigning for the U.S. presidency, Biden criticized China for financing dirty fossil fuel projects around the world through the Belt and Road Initiative — and essentially "outsourcing" Chinese carbon pollution to other countries.

Related Articles

Latest Articles