In April, 260 environmental organisations sent an unusual request to China’s finance minister: do not bail out 60 Chinese-backed overseas projects suffering from Covid-19’s economic fallout.The list ranged from coal-fired power plants in Turkey to palm oil plantations in Cameroon, all part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to fund and build infrastructure across Eurasia and beyond. Countries along the route have been calling for debt relief from Beijing in the wake of the global pandemic, but the listed projects should be excluded, due to their environmental, social, or climate risks, wrote the coalition of local civil society organisations and international groups including Friends of Nature. Calls for China’s BRI to shift away from funding polluting infrastructure is fast becoming one of the greatest obstacles to President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy programme. Environmentalists argue that the emphasis on fossil fuels is not just dangerous for climate change and local ecology, it is also a bad bet financially, as renewables such as solar and wind become cheaper and more popular.
FT 5th June 2020 read more »