China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an example of how decarbonization processes interact with the geopolitical dynamics. How successful the implementation of the Paris Agreement will be depends on the emissions trajectories of the BRI partner countries and the infrastructure choices made today.
China’s support to energy, transportation and industrial projects might influence some of these choices, and these investments often underpin the geopolitical aspirations of China and its partners.
This report, prepared by adelphi within Mistra Geopolitics, provides an insight to the decarbonization impacts of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Kazakhstan. The report shows that both push and pull factors – China’s goals and the decarbonization context on the recipient side – are important.
“The Belt and Road Initiative matters for climate. But looking on China’s motives is not giving us a full picture. We need to understand the context in the receiving countries, as well. Plus, each partnership has different geopolitical dynamics. So, a closer look is worthwhile to decide what can be done to support low-emission transformation in each case”, said the report’s author Daria Ivleva, Senior Advisor at adelphi and researcher of Mistra Geopolitics.
BRI finance flows and the motives behind them need to be analyzed in each geographical context. But, we can expect “greening” the BRI to be a paramount task due to the economic structures for investment and due to geopolitical dynamics. The analysis offered three takeaways for European climate diplomacy:
- Greening the BRI (“push”) and raising climate ambition in the BRI target countries (“pull”) are both essential to achieving low-emission development. To grasp the push and pull factors fully, and to act on them effectively, we need to understand their geopolitical dimension, in interaction with the economic rationale.
- Engaging with China and the BRI target countries will not only require cooperation on climate topics but a comprehensive, cross-cutting approach to international relations and diplomacy.
- An accelerated domestic transformation in the EU and its Member States has the power to influence the structure of economic, financial and geopolitical incentives for fostering climate-compatible economies beyond European borders.
To raise climate ambition, Europe will need to explore the incentives it can mobilise through important fields of engagement such as trade and investment relations, said Daria Ivleva.
A conclusion of the analysis in the report is that climate goals need be a compass for cooperation of China and the EU and its Member States across the policy domains.
The Belt and Road Initiative is at the juncture of geopolitics and decarbonization.
Learn why in a new report by adelphi and Mistra Geopolitics.
The report “The Belt and Road Initiative in Kazakhstan: Does the geopolitics of China’s outward investments put the brakes on decarbonization?” is a deliverable of Mistra Geopolitics, funded by MISTRA, The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research. It is further supported by a grant of the German Federal Foreign Office.
Daria Ivleva is a Senior Advisor for adelphi in the field of international cooperation, climate, and energy. In Mistra Geopolitics, she works on geopolitics of decarbonization.
Daria Ivleva is a project manager for adelphi in the field of international cooperation, climate, and energy. In Mistra Geopolitics, she works on geopolitics of decarbonization.
Telephone:+49 (30) 8900068-76
Karl Hallding is a senior research fellow at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) where he is a research leader on the global research directorate. His research deals with the transformation of the energy system, with a specific analysis on how energy and climate policies affect this transformation.
Dennis Tänzler is Director of International Climate Policy at adelphi. His research focuses on climate and energy policies as well as on peace and conflict studies. In Mistra Geopolitics, he works on geopolitics of decarbonization.
Telephone:+49 (30) 8900068-20
Mistra Geopolitics is a research programme that examines the dynamics of geopolitics, human security and environmental change, funded by Mistra. The programme brings together a strong interdisciplinary research team consisting of eight partners: