顾宾:“一带一路”是低标准高污染?中国早就做出了承诺

发表时间:2021/7/10   来源:观察者网   作者:
[导读] 上月,七国集团领导人峰会上,美国拜登总统呼吁在世界范围实施基础设施计划(Build Back Better World, B3W),意在联合盟友抗衡“一带一路”倡议。在特朗普时代的“蓝点网络”沉寂多时之后,这一举动标志着美国新政府在基础设施国际合作领域的再次出发...

导读:自从2013年提出倡议以来,国际上抹黑、污蔑“一带一路”是低标准、污染环境的噪声不绝于耳。煤炭发电是温室气体排放的单一最大来源。如果“一带一路”拒绝投资新的煤电项目,将有利于实现《巴黎协定》把全球气候变暖限制在1.5摄氏度以内的目标,进而提升“一带一路”的美誉度。

【文/观察者网专栏作者、中国论坛特约专家 顾宾】

上月,七国集团领导人峰会上,美国拜登总统呼吁在世界范围实施基础设施计划(Build Back Better World, B3W),意在联合盟友抗衡“一带一路”倡议。在特朗普时代的“蓝点网络”沉寂多时之后,这一举动标志着美国新政府在基础设施国际合作领域的再次出发。但是,拜登的号召尚显空洞,有些“雷声大,雨点小”的意味。

但是,这次七国集团领导人峰会公报有一点值得关注。这些国家一致承诺从明年开始,不再使用政府资金支持新的海外煤电项目,而且要向G20和更广范围推广这一“最佳做法”。这一动向值得高质量共建“一带一路”事业高度关注。

自从2013年提出倡议以来,国际上抹黑、污蔑“一带一路”是低标准、污染环境的噪声不绝于耳。煤炭发电是温室气体排放的单一最大来源。如果“一带一路”拒绝投资新的煤电项目,将有利于实现《巴黎协定》把全球气候变暖限制在1.5摄氏度以内的目标,进而提升“一带一路”的美誉度。2019年第二届“一带一路”国际合作高峰论坛,标志着“一带一路”进入高质量建设阶段。高质量的核心内涵之一是清洁绿色。无煤(coal-free)的“一带一路”有助于实现这一雄心目的。

去煤化有助于落实中国“2030年碳达峰,2060年碳中和”的国际承诺。在主要经济体中,中国从碳达峰到碳中和承诺用时最短,政府、企业和社会的压力最大。如果“一带一路”去煤化,参与其中的开发性金融机构和商业银行将推动并引领借款国转型升级,实现绿色发展。

 

目前共有32个重要的国际机构为“一带一路”事业背书。它们包括联合国、国际货币基金组织、世界银行等。这些机构多数视“国际最佳实践”如生命。如果“一带一路”去煤化,有利于它们更加积极地投身共建“一带一路”事业。

“一带一路”尤其应当关注并回应多边开发银行的政策动向。例如,欧洲投资银行的步子迈得最大,明年起不再投资化石能源项目,包括石油、天然气和煤。亚洲开发银行自从2013年起不再投资煤电项目。在今年5月出台的能源政策草案里,亚行又明确禁止投资新火电项目。亚洲基础设施投资银行(AIIB)自从2016年开业运营以来,没有投资过一个火电项目。目前,亚投行正在考虑修订其能源战略,把火电项目投资禁令写进去。

根据联合国消息,110多个国家已经承诺2050年实现碳中和。在此过程中,低碳经济蕴藏的巨大商机不可低估。正如联合国秘书长古特雷斯指出,谁的步子迈得快,迈得坚决,谁将受益最大。

已有140个国家明确支持“一带一路”。甚至很多西方国家——澳大利亚、加拿大、英国、日本等,通过与中国开展第三方市场合作,从“一带一路”收获利益。如果“一带一路”明确宣布去煤化,将有更多国家改变立场,成为“一带一路”合作伙伴。

 

我们所处的时代以“乱”为特点,主要大国关系处于爬坡过坎的重构阶段。“一带一路”应当被视为中西方合作的新通道,无煤有助于通道畅通。

当然,我不会幼稚地认为,“一带一路”受到攻击,是因为所谓的有关火电投资的“低标准”造成的。主要的原因,还是伴随中国崛起,美国感到自己的霸权受到威胁。如果“一带一路”去煤化,有助于收获西方社会、特别是西欧国家的善意,有助于挫败拜登政府联合盟友边缘化中国的企图。

需要强调的是,在实现人类命运共同体的过程中,我深信绿色标准要“高且可行”(high and feasible)。因为亚洲是全球储煤最丰富的的地区,占全球储量38%。由于煤炭资源便宜、可及,多数发展中国家的能源消费结构中以煤炭为主,例如亚洲的煤炭消费占该地区能源消费总量超过40%,远远高于全球平均水平27%。对此现实,我们应当面对、回应,而不是回避或假装看不见。

因此,“一带一路”去煤化,绝不是完全无煤,或立刻无煤。相反,我们要支持金融机构投资改造现有的火电厂,采用“清洁煤”技术——例如碳捕捉和存储(CCS),使得煤电更清洁,实现煤电逐步、有序退出。如果煤电项目需要早于寿命周期提前关停,应当有可行的、有吸引力的替代方案。

本文英文版发表于英国《金融时报》2021年7月5日

BRI Should Set a Green Example by Stopping Financing New Coal Power

Last month, United States President Joe Biden asked his G7 counterparts to work on a world-wide infrastructure plan to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It marked the debut of Biden’s campaign for international cooperation in high quality infrastructure, which may be viewed as a scale-up version in a post-COVID 19 world to the Blue Dot Network of the Trump era. Nevertheless, Biden’s call produced little concrete results.

However, that G7 meeting promised to stop using government funds to finance new international coal power plants by this year end. This explicit commitment should strike a jarring gong for BRI, against which a wave of blames for environmental deterioration has been roaring non-stop since it was initiated in 2013.

Coal power generation is the single biggest source for greenhouse gas emissions. If BRI makes similar, coal-free commitments, it may contribute to the Paris Agreement and 1.5°C goal, and thus improve its own reputation. The Second Belt and Road Forum, a top international gathering event of BRI held in Beijing in 2019, embarked upon a new phase of constructing high-quality BRI, where a central plank is being clean and green. A commitment of no more coal surely helps in fulfilling this ambition.

Banning coal is consistent with China’s pledge of carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, the interval of the two timelines being the shortest among major economies. By banning coal, BRI would force major development financiers—China Development Bank and China Exim Bank, as well as commercial banks, to adopt best practices, which in turn would accelerate the pace of BRI borrowing countries’ domestic transition to a green future.

More than 30 major international institutions are official partners with BRI. They include the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank, to name a few. These institutions prioritize international best practices in their genes. A coal-free BRI will help shy away any of their doubts, if ever, and incentivize them to see BRI investments as the apple of their eye.

BRI should be particularly watchful, and responsive to the policy development of multilateral development banks. For example, the European Investment Bank will stop financing fossil fuel energy projects (including oil, gas and coal) starting next year. The Asian Development Bank has not funded a coal power plant since 2013, and it banned coal formally in an energy policy proposal last May. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is following the same path, expecting to discuss and update its energy strategy by banning coal power later this year.

According to the UN source, more than 110 countries have pledged carbon neutrality by 2050. A low-carbon economy represents the greatest business opportunity of our time. Those who move resolute and fast in that direction will benefit the most.

140 countries have expressly endorsed BRI so far. Even some Western countries have chosen to reap the benefits of the BRI through the so-called third-party market cooperation. By declaring coal free, more countries expect to change their position and join this cheering squad.

It is best to have BRI viewed as a new corridor for China -West cooperation, at a time of ever-increasing uncertainty and destabilization. No more coal for BRI makes it possible.

I am not naively suggesting that BRI has been targeted and stigmatized on the ground of low standards merely. it is mainly because, the US as the hegemon feels threatened by China’s rise. By committing zero funding for new coal power plants, BRI will harvest good will from the West, in particular from western Europe, devastating Biden’s strategy of coaxing and hoaxing its allies to corner China in a larger context.

Last but not least, I have a deep faith that, in order to make a better world for us all, green standards must be feasible. Asia has the richest coal deposit, representing 38% of world reserves. Being cheap and accessible for most developing countries, coal constitutes some 40% of energy consumption in Asia, much higher than the world average of 27%. This fact must be acknowledged and not ignored.

Therefore, a coal-free BRI does not mean no coal at all or at once. Instead, for those existing coal power plants, investments should rather be encouraged by using “clean coal” technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, to make the dirty coal greener and enable it to phase out gradually; in case of an early coal-power retirement, alternatives must be available and attractive.

(Gu Bin, associate professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University Law School)

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