The Sunday Telegraph
China challenged with green plan to help developing nations build back
THE Group of Seven rich nations threw down a gauntlet to China yesterday with the launch of a global green infrastructure project to rival Beijing’s Belt and Road scheme.
The “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project will seek to narrow the estimated $40trillion (£28 trillion) shortfall in infrastructure investment required to slow and adapt to the impacts of climate change in low and middle-income countries.
It came as the White House said President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders discussed “strategic competition with China” on the second day of their summit in Cornwall and explicitly linked the infrastructure announcement to confronting Beijing.
“This is not just about confronting or taking on China. This is about providing an affirmative, positive, alternative vision for the world than that which is presented by China and, in … some different ways, Russia,” a senior US official told reporters. “Until now we haven’t offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards and our way of doing business.”
The announcement did not offer details on where the hundreds of billions of dollars for the B3W programme would come from.
Xi Jinping, the president of China, launched the multitrillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative in 2013. More than 100 countries have signed up to the scheme, which supports investment in ports, roads, railways and other infrastructure across Asia and into Europe and Africa. Critics say the scheme is also an instrument for extending China’s diplomatic and political influence by making developing countries dependent on Beijing’s largesse.
The US official said that until now, the West had failed to offer a positive alternative to the “lack of transparency, poor environmental and labour standards and coercive approach” of the Belt and Road Initiative.
He also said Mr Biden would also be pressing G7 leaders to make specific criticisms of China over the use of forced labour in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.
The Embassy of China said in a response to the comments: “The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone. There is only one system and one order in the world, that is, the international system with the UN at the core and the international order based on international law.”
The scheme is part of a raft of measures to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss adopted by leaders yesterday. The G7 also endorsed a Nature Compact to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and were expected to commit to almost halve their emissions by 2030 relative to 2010 at the Saturday session.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister and host of the summit, separately announced a £500million Blue Planet Fund to tackle unsustainable fishing and marine pollution, reduce poverty, and protect and restore biodiverse, carbon-rich ecosystems such as mangroves and coral reefs.
Mr Johnson lauded the measures for driving “a global Green Industrial revolution” in a statement.
“There is a direct relationship between reducing emissions, restoring nature, creating jobs and ensuring longterm economic growth,” he said.
“As democratic nations we have a responsibility to help developing countries reap the benefits of clean growth through a fair and transparent system.”
George Eustace, the Environment Secretary, writing for the Telegraph website today, also said that G7 nations will seek to cut to break the link between commodity production and the tragic loss of the world’s most important forests.
‘There is a direct relationship between reducing emissions, restoring nature, creating jobs and long-term growth’