China Has the ‘Riskiest Environmental Project in History,’ According to a Distinguished Researcher


Renowned Professor William Laurance from James Cook University, Australia, recently stated that China’s new environmental project could be catastrophic. He is a global expert on infrastructure and said that China’s project poses many risks on the environment.

Laurance has joined an international team, writing their findings and concerns in the Nature Sustainability journal. The paper urges China to have a better planning before starting their ‘Belt and Road Initiative.’

Enormous Ambitions

China plans to develop its energy project by expanding it, and this means destroying parts of at least 64 nations in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Pacific region.

Professor William Laurance stated that “China has enormous ambitions, but with that comes enormous responsibilities.”

China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ will cost them US $8 trillion. It will include 7,000 infrastructure projects that will span at least 64 countries.

The WWF claims that this initiative could result in destroying more than 1,700 critical biodiversity areas. It also means that hundreds of threatened species will be at risk.

The ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ – A Responsible Development?

Professor Laurance said that China’s responsible development will have to consider the international regions too:

“China claims its Belt and Road will be a blueprint for responsible development, but that’s going to require it to fundamentally change the way it does business internationally. Too many Chinese firms and financiers operating overseas are poorly controlled by their government—in large part because they are so profitable.”

He continues to explain what is the main issue in environmental control:

“In the last two decades I’ve seen countless examples of aggressive and even predatory exploitation by Chinese firms, especially in developing nations with weak environmental controls.”

Laurance stresses the fact that China has improved the environmental safeguards, but only inside China. Will it also do that with the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’?

Business as Usual?

“China is doing a much better job of improving environmental safeguards inside China than internationally. It’s produced a mountain of green documents and promises about the Belt and Road, but a leopard doesn’t just change its spots overnight,” said Laurance.

In conclusion, China could become a leader in sustainability. But only if it changes the way it develops, argue the authors of the paper:

“China has a unique opportunity, but if it’s ‘business as usual’ then I think the costs for the environment and economic risks for investors could be flat-out scary.”


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