The failure of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries to rein in carbon emission growth in plans to realize around $12 trillion infrastructure investment could be enough to result in nearly 3 degrees warming by 2050, according to a recent report.
The report, "Decarbonizing the Belt and Road: A Green Finance Roadmap" prepared by China’s Center for Finance and Development, U.K.-based Vivid Economics and the U.S.-based ClimateWorks, analyzed BRI countries’ growth and carbon scenarios.
China's BRI, also known as the One Belt One Road, is an ambitious project to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks to increase trade and stimulate economic growth. More than 120 countries are part of the BRI, excluding China, and currently, account for about 23% of the world’s GDP and about 28% of global carbon emissions.
"If their current carbon-intensive growth model continues, these percentages are likely to grow dramatically over the next two decades," the report warned.
"Expanding the scope to cover the entire set of 126 BRI countries and multiple sectors shows that the green investment needs total $11.8 trillion to 2030, or $785 billion annually for the power, transport, building and manufacturing sectors," it added.
As a result, urgent action to drastically reduce future carbon trajectories is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement on climate, the report surmised.
To decarbonize investments, the report details five significant steps as part of the green finance roadmap. The first of which is to build capacity for green finance in Belt and Road countries by establishing an international platform, possibly hosted by the UN. This platform would support the intensive development of green finance across BRI countries and meet the rapidly growing demand from these countries.
The second comes in extending China’s green requirements to its investments in the Belt and Road Initiative followed by global investors promoting the adoption of green investment principles. The fourth step is to promote the transparency of the carbon footprints of BRI countries' infrastructure investments.
The report's final suggestion is to form a coalition of international initiatives to support green financing in BRI countries to help decarbonize the planned infrastructure investments.
-"Turkey’s infrastructure projects should include emission reduction targets"
Bengisu Ozenc, a project director at Ankara-based Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, said that the project’s transformative effects of large-scale infrastructure investments are expected to have significant consequences on a global scale.
Ozenc, taking into account significant project risks, especially in areas requiring urgent action such as climate change, said, "To eliminate these risks depend on the attitude of countries such as Turkey, which will host the investments, as much as China and other financing sources.”
According to Ozenc, Turkey should demonstrate a long-term and consistent global emission reduction target and conduct all infrastructure projects in this context as part of the BRI.
Asli Gemci, a senior policy specialist at WWF-Turkey, recommended that China keep the carbon footprint and environmental impact of its infrastructure investments to a minimum.
“These large scale investments should be planned, as developing countries such as Turkey will adopt decarbonizing goals and support a low carbon economy,” Gemci said adding that “otherwise it will not be possible to stabilize global warming at 2 degrees and this will have irreversible consequences for humanity and nature,” she concluded.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya