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Locking in a High-Carbon Future: Chinese Steel, Cement and Coal Investments at Home and Abroad

Date & Time

Feb. 15, 2022
9:00am – 10:15am ET


China’s Belt and Road Initiative is often said to be a world shaping development program larger in scale than the Marshall Plan and nothing short of transformative for the global south. Many dissenters claim the BRI to be a dark vision of debt-trap diplomacy and pollution. The reality is rather more complex and less organized in nature. Many energy and infrastructure hungry countries in Southeast Asia are welcoming the investments, which to date are mainly in fossil fuels, roadbuilding, cement and steel.

Speakers at this China Environment Forum panel will shine a light on Chinese investments into steel and cement at home and along the Belt and Road, potentially locking the region into a high-carbon future. 

Dr. Alvin Camba (University of Denver) will draw on his working paper and research at the Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University to discuss how China's investment and export boom in Philippine cement and steel is generating a growing footprint of CO2 emissions. Then, Dr. Angela Tritto (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) will share the story of Indonesia’s “cognitive dissonance” in development of fossil fuels. Specifically, how the Belt and Road Initiative has propelled the expansion of the steel industry in Indonesia, which is in turn connected to investments into coal power plants. Edmund Downie (Princeton University) will share a basic overview of the Chinese steel and cement industries as well as their environmental impacts and discuss initial steps by firms and government authorities to reduce the sectors' carbon footprints.


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a camba

Alvin Camba

Assistant professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver
A Tritto

Angela Tritto

Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Division of Public Policy, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Ed Downie

Edmund Downie

PhD student in the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy program at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

Hosted By

China Environment Forum

Since 1997, the China Environment Forum's mission has been to forge U.S.-China cooperation on energy, environment, and sustainable development challenges. We play a unique nonpartisan role in creating multi-stakeholder dialogues around these issues.  Read more

Asia Program

The Asia Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.   Read more

Environmental Change and Security Program

The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) explores the connections between environmental change, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy.  Read more

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