Greening of Belt and Road Initiatives and COP-26
Last Updated: 2021-11-02 09:02 |
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by Shakeel Ahmad Ramay
Editor's note: Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, Chief Executive Officer, Asian Institute of Eco-civilisation Research and Development. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of China Economic Net.
Although a lot has been written about BRI but there is dearth of literature which highlight the green aspects of BRI. China, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, has an unblemished commitment to green and nature-friendly development and BRI is the torch bearer of President Xi’s vision. Unfortunately, this dimension is not part of any discourse. The opponents criticize China on the basis of self-assumed perceptions. They have launched smear campaigns against BRI without understanding the new philosophy of development, President Xi’s vision of eco-civilization and circular economy. 
China has redesigned its policies and actions to achieve development, which ensures the well-being of people and the harmony between nature and human. President Xi Jinping has assured the world and Chinese people that “We will never again seek economic growth at the cost of the environment”. It indicates the future course of action will be led by the vision of eco-civilization to ensure harmony between human and nature. BRI being signature initiative of President Xi on economic front, is transforming the practices in accordance with the vision of eco-civilization and new philosophy of development.
China has learnt the art of respecting nature through the evolution of Chinese civilization. It is pertinent to mention here that China was the first country which introduced punishments for waste and damage to environment. President Xi, building on the history of China and under the vision of eco-civilization, has declared environment and nature as part of the system and not as external factor. This philosophy has changed the whole dynamics of the economic growth and development policy and actions of China.  
China is leaving the old practices, technologies and fossil fuels behind and is looking for new ways of growth and development which are more energy efficient and nature-friendly. China is complimenting the policies with actions at the national and international levels. China started the execution of policies from national level because China believes that whatever you preach others first practice at home. Now the 14th Five-Year Development came up with targets to achieve the goal of green development. China will be working to lower the carbon intensity by 18 percent and energy intensity by 13.5 percent. Resource utilization will be enhanced by 20 percent and water use will be brought down by 16 percent. Eco-industrial Parks will be encouraged, and recycling industry will reach the target of US$ 773 billion till 2025. The adoption of Vision 2035 has further accelerated the process.
Simultaneously China is also focusing on its global programs. China has issued rules for promoting Green BRI. The Government of China has also issued BRI Ecological and Environmental Cooperation Plan, which is a good document to know the ambitions of China under the green BRI vision. President Xi at the second forum of BRI assured the world that China would work for building infrastructure which would have the characteristics of: 1)- Sustainability, 2)- High quality, 3)- Reasonable pricing, 4)- Risk resilience, 5)- Inclusiveness and 6)-   Accessibility. 
The Second Forum of BRI was followed by the launch of Belt and Road Initiative International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC). The goal of BRIGC is “to promote international consensus, understanding, cooperation and concerted actions to realize green development on the Belt and Road, to integrate sustainable development into the BRI through joint efforts and to facilitate BRI participating countries to realize SDGs related to environment and development”. Since its inception, BRIGC is working diligently to realize the dream of green development. 
According to official statistics, 140 countries and international organizations have the BRIGC. BRIGC has ten thematic areas and each area hosts a good number of organizations. The areas of work are Biodiversity and Eco-system Management, Green Energy and Energy Efficiency, Improvement of Environmental Quality and Green Cities, South-South Environmental Cooperation and SDGs Capacity Building, Green Technology, Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainable Transportation, Climate Change Governance and Green Transformation, Environmental Legislation and Standards, Maritime Community with A Shared Future and Marine Environment Governance. 
China has also launched “Green Investment Principles” initiative in collaboration with many Western countries, including the UK, France, etc. It has 27 member states. Green Development Coalition is another initiative to strengthen cooperation in green development. The coalition has been joined by 25 countries and some international organizations, think tanks and civil society organizations. The purpose of the coalition is to build a network for research, experience-sharing and the means to achieve Agenda 2030 under SDGs. 
Chinese Academy of Sciences came up with the idea of Silk Road Environment Program. The program has been designed to build close cooperation with research institutes across the world with a focus on BRI member countries. The research community of China wants to share its experience with other countries. Moreover, China had announced that it will train 1500 officials under “Green Silk Road Envoy Program”. Big Data Platform is another landmark initiative. It will be a huge intervention to tackle issues of environment and climate change in the coming days. Data is key to formulate sound and focused policies for achieving the desired results. Ministry of Ecology and Environment also established a Belt and Road Environmental Technology Exchange and Transfer Center. It is one of the most important initiatives. As we know, many developing and poor countries lack the technology to combat the challenges of climate change. Thus, it will be interesting to watch how China is trying to assist these counties. National Development and Reform Commission introduced the initiatives of Green Lightening and Green Cooling initiatives. 
In addition, China has already started to take practical steps to refine its investments under BRI. It has started to shelf or replace fossil fuel power projects with renewable and clean energy. Data shows that half of the planned or negotiated coal-fired plants have been shelved or canceled during 2014 to the end of 2020. It is a huge shift in policy and investment from China. Investment in coal-fired power plants has also observed a steady decline. Now President Xi has announced that China will not invest in coal power projects. 
On the other hand, China has also increased investment in clean and renewable energy sources. The data of BRI investment shows that there is a steady increase in investment for green energy. In 2014 the share of green energy in investment was 19.60 percent. However, in 2020 the share has been inflated to 58.12 percent. It is very encouraging because it is the need of the hour. It gives hope to the world that China will assist them in green development. Covid-19 has further given impetus to green development under the theme of green recovery. China, along with other leading countries of the world, looks at this as an opportunity to reset the economic and development agenda. 
In nutshell, China has paced the work on transformation of BRI into a green initiative. It has launched multiple forums and initiatives to materialize the dream of green BRI. It is a concrete effort of China to achieve the goal of harmony between nature and human without compromising on the human development. Thus, the uncalled or self-presumed propaganda on environmental basis against BRI must stop here.
In conclusion, China must present its case of greening BRI at COP-26 with force and unapologetically. China should organize some events at COP-26 to showcase the green development under BRI. It needed to mitigate the unnecessary propaganda against BRI.

(Editor:Wang Su)

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Greening of Belt and Road Initiatives and COP-26 | 2021-11-02 09:02
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