Barriers to renewables in the Belt and Road Initiative - with Bai Yunwen and Ma Tianjie


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In today's podcast, we’re talking about why it’s been so difficult to get financing for renewable energy in the Belt and Road, also known as the Belt-Road-Initiative or BRI. (Note the podcast was recorded prior to the announcement that China would pursue carbon neutrality by 2060.)

Our first guest is Ma Tianjie, Tianjie is managing editor of China Dialogue and several times past guest of Environment China. Before joining China Dialogue, he was Greenpeace's Program Director for Mainland China. He holds a master’s degree in environmental policy from American University, Washington D.C.

Our second guest is Bai Yunwen. Yunwen is the director of Greenovation Hub. Founded in 2012, Greenovation Hub is, an independent Chinese NGO advancing sound climate and environment governance. Over the years, Yunwen has worked on climate diplomacy, energy policy, and international financial flows. Recently, she and her colleagues have worked with financial regulators to strengthen environmental and social practices on belt-and-road investments.

The Belt-and-Road Initiative, aka One Belt One Road, was launched in 2013, and though membership is unofficial it is said to include between 70 countries (Wikipedia) to over 130 countries (according to the BRI website). It’s stated goal is to “promote the connectivity of Asian, European and African continents and their adjacent seas, establish and strengthen partnerships among the countries … and realize diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development in these countries.”

An analysis by MERICS showed that of US$ 75 billion in completed investments, two-thirds was energy related, most of which was in coal, oil, and gas projects.

The vast majority of coal plants outside of China are funded by investment from China.

According to a Greenpeace analysis in 2019, China’s BRI investments have supported 67 GW of coal plants and just 12 GW of wind and solar plants.

The genesis of today’s podcast is a report by Greenovation Hub, which discussed some of the reasons why it is difficult for Chinese wind and solar companies to invest and do business abroad.

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