350.org Bangladesh and Youthnet for Climate Justice applaud China’s announcement to end financing of all overseas coal projects, but urge clarification, reparations, and scaled-up investment.
September 23, 2021 – President Xi Jinping announced at the United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 2021, that China will end financing of all overseas coal projects.
China’s involvement in coal-fired power plant development has had far-reaching impacts on Bangladesh. While thousands of farmers and fishermen have been displaced due to forced land acquisition for the building of coal power plants without compensation for the loss of their homes and livelihoods, those opposed to the continuation of fossil fuel development have been met with widespread rights violations.
While President Xi Jinping’s announcement to cease funding of coal projects overseas is welcome, a clear timeline for this phase-out remains to be seen, as well as further details that would clarify the fate of projects already underway and whether this commitment will extend to both public and private funding.
Along with this commitment, China should use this opportunity to further invest in clean, renewable energy projects in Bangladesh that will strengthen local ownership of land and water and protect the rights and livelihoods of affected communities.
This is also an opportunity for China, along with other fossil fuel financing countries, to extend the conversation on fossil funding to their responsibility to compensate affected communities in Bangladesh by financing reparations for loss and damage caused by the impacts of fossil fuel development and associated climate change to date.
With the COP26 climate talks approaching in November, and issues around vaccine inequality sparking apprehensions that Global South countries will be barred from consultation and meaningful participation, this announcement represents a positive starting point for inclusive commitments and plans around climate finance.
However, significant progress towards achieving the targets set out in the Paris Agreement must position the experience of developing countries in Asia with climate change at the forefront, and consider the region’s valuable leadership when it comes to viable solutions.
Sohanur Rahman, Founder of YouthNet for Climate Justice in Bangladesh said:
We welcome this statement from President Xi Jinping. China-backed coal plant projects in Bangladesh have violated the human rights of the local people and have manipulated pollution data, as in the case of the Banshkhali coal plant. Young people in Bangladesh have been asking the government to pass a Green New Deal and take steps towards a just transition to renewable energy. China should invest in renewable energy in Bangladesh and support a ‘just transition’ process.
350’s South Asia Organiser Shibayan said:
President Xi Jinping has taken the first step with his statement declaring an end to all China-backed overseas coal projects. This will have huge implications in Bangladesh where China is financing the bulk of coal plant projects. While the details of the announcement are not clear, and neither is what it means by “green and low-carbon energy”, I hope this won’t lead to another round of financing of false solutions like natural gas projects. To support Bangladesh in a just transition, China must invest in community-led renewable energy projects in the country.