A German scholar Dr. Christoph Nedopil Wang, the director of the Green BRI Centre has stated that despite the decline in total Belt and Road Investment (BRI) investment in 2020 due to COVID-19, Pakistan has great potential to attract BRI investment in the renewable energy sector.
Energy investment maintained a stable trend in the BRI investment in 2020. According to Dr. Wang, BRI’s investment in the first half of 2020 covered all areas. Energy investment accounted for 37.6 percent of the total investment. This is a continuation of the infrastructure investment focus on the “Belt and Road” initiative on August 10.
In the energy sector investment, renewable energy shows a strong performance. The share of renewable energy in BRI energy investment has increased year by year from 19.6 percent in 2014, and surpassed the share of fossil energy investment in 2020.
Wang said : Looking at BRI energy investments, 2020 saw a relative increase of non-fossil fuel related energy investments. While in the first 6 months of 2019 56 percent of energy investments were fossil fuel-related, the share dropped to 42 percent.
The two countries with the highest energy-related investments were Pakistan and Vietnam. Among them, $1.93 billion of China’s energy investment in Pakistan is all hydropower projects, which are invested by Power China.
In an exclusive interview, he said that although Pakistan has a large amount of investment in the renewable energy sector, Pakistan has great potential to attract more investment under the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative. There is a huge need for renewable investments. so far, Pakistan is 30 percent coal, and only 4.8 percent truly green (that is wind and solar), 35 percent is hydropower.
Wang also suggested that both Pakistan and China should focus on sustainable projects that can bring returns and prepare for a better future, such as renewable energy.
Meanwhile, China will work to appropriately integrate environmental and social safeguards to improve environmental and social outcomes. “CPEC projects can support Pakistan dealing with its debt through bilateral and multilateral forums as well,” he said. The Green BRI Centre is formulating policies and providing financial and economic research to accelerate the green development of BRI, with a focus on green finance. The Green BRI Centre is part of the International Institute of Green Finance (IIGF) and Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE), independent think tanks located in Beijing, China.
Meanwhile, “COVID-19 did affect the on site, face-to-face cooperation between China and Pakistan’s universities,” noted Shanghai University of Engineering Science (SUES), China, but they spared no efforts to”promote bilateral exchanges and cooperation in textile engineering via Internet” with National Textile University (NTU), Pakistan.
According to the agreement jointly signed by SUES and NTU in May, the two universities are to promote bilateral exchanges and cooperation in teaching, scientific research, academic conferences, seminars, symposiums, long-term and short-term student exchange programmes, mutual recognition agreement (MRA) for GPA, double major programmes, summer exchange programmes between both universities.