The green philosophy encouraged in BRI projects

An aerial view on October 29, 2021 of the Sirindhorn Dam floating solar farm in Ubon Ratchathani province, northeast Thailand. (Photo/Xinhua)

In order to advance the development of the “Green Belt and Road” initiative, China has updated a guideline on environmental protection in overseas operations, with Chinese enterprises sticking to environmentally friendly approaches throughout the life cycle of their projects.

The guideline, unveiled on Tuesday, was issued jointly by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and the Ministry of Commerce as a guide for companies to “implement the philosophy of ecological civilization”, as well as to “promote green and high-quality development”. .

Ecological Civilization is a concept promoted by President Xi Jinping for balanced and sustainable development characterized by harmonious coexistence of man and nature.

The document, which updates a 2013 directive from the two government bodies, was inscribed with some of the president’s new visions and instructions on overseas investment and cooperation, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. ‘Environment.

In a speech at a high-level BRI symposium in Beijing in November, for example, Xi emphasized developing an early warning and risk assessment platform through all times for overseas Chinese projects.

With climate change being one of the main highlights, the directive includes environment-related requirements for far-reaching procedures in companies’ overseas operations.

Before overseas mergers and acquisitions, for example, they should assess environmental risks caused by target companies, including environmental pollution, lawsuits and penalties, he said. Hazardous waste disposal and greenhouse gas emissions should also be prioritized in the assessment.

In construction projects, companies should strengthen their work on pollution control and strive to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases.

In addition to repairing pollution control facilities and deploying effective measures to reduce carbon emissions, they should also step up environmental monitoring work.

The directive explicitly states that environmental protection is not only about pollution control, but also about climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation, according to a press release from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. Environment.

The press release indicates that the directive also includes specific clauses on overseas projects involving energy, petrochemicals, mining and transport, since they are key elements of investment in abroad the country and building the BIS.

According to the guideline, when energy projects are developed, priority should be given to renewable energies. Companies should avoid building hydropower plants in nature reserves and key animal habitats, and they should take steps to protect aquatic organisms and other wildlife.

Zhang Jianyu, executive director of the BRI Green Development Institute, hailed the directive’s emphasis on climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation, saying it shows China is a responsible major global power.

Many developing countries have rich biodiversity resources, and some regions in these countries are environmentally fragile, Zhang said, adding that efforts to address these issues will help create a favorable environment for Chinese companies’ operations.

He said it was “foresighted” for China to pay attention to these two issues, both of which are big concerns around the world.

“Companies should integrate environmental protection into their development strategy,” the directive states. “With common international practices as a reference, they should establish institutions and regulations on environmental protection to improve their internal environmental management system.”

Besides stepping up capacity building with trainings and seminars, Chinese companies should appoint special personnel to take over environmental protection work, he added.

The guideline encourages Chinese companies to adopt international or Chinese green standards when they are stricter than the host country’s standards, which is also emphasized in the Green Development Guidelines for Investment and Cooperation in the EU. abroad, which the country made public in July.

China had taken a series of other concrete steps to make the BRI greener.

In September, President Xi promised that China would not build new coal-fired power projects overseas. He later announced that the country would invest 1.5 billion yuan ($235.7 million) to establish the Kunming Biodiversity Fund, which will be used to support developing countries’ efforts in biodiversity conservation. .

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