China halts funding for coal projects, opts for environment friendly energy solutions

Albert Chavhunduka

Recent media reports have said Zimbabwe’s biggest mining and energy company RioZim Ltd is on the hunt for alternative financiers or switching to a gas-powered plant after China’s decision to halt funding the building of coal-fired power plants overseas to protect the global environment.

The company had looked forward to attracting capital from China but now it says it is looking for alternative financing plans and considering transforming the project to a gas-powered plant if feasibility studies are carried out.

China has been a top funder of coal power projects around the world particularly in developing countries, but in September last year, the Asian giant proclaimed its plans to stop funding the construction of new coal projects overseas, as part of efforts to nip in the bud future carbon emissions.

China’s Gezhouba Group Corp in partnership with Rio Energy, was behind the development as well as fund raising for the US$3 billion Sengwa coal plant, which was expected to produce up to 1 400 megawatts of electricity, a development which would have gone a long way in solving the country’s energy problems.

Some cynics have begun speculating that the move by China is leaving Africa – which is energy deficient – in a lurch.

China’s decision should not be construed or interpreted to mean that China is ‘dumping’ Zimbabwe or Africa per se, but rather, it is evidence of China’s effort and commitment to fight against climate change and the future of the world!

There is a greater good.

It is very eminent to realise that the China-Rio Energy scenario is not a case of China abandoning Africa, but rather, China’s commitment to a better environment for a “beautiful and green future for the world” as stated by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China has retained a firm stance on its commitment to cut emissions to net zero and through decisive steps, is on course to increase its climate goal and peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 in line with the Paris climate agreement.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in 2021, President Xi Jinping was resolute and eloquently articulated China’s position to adopt more vigorous policies and measures to deal with climate change and called for the building of “Green Great Wall” back home.

President Xi clearly said that China will up its support for other developing countries in developing cleaner forms of energy, instead of encouraging the further building of coal-powered power plants which have vastly contributed to climate change.

In his statement at the General Debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 21 September 2021, President Xi announced that, “we need to improve global environment governance, actively respond to climate change and create a community of life for man and nature. We need to accelerate transition to a green and low carbon economy and achieve green recovery and development.

“China will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. This requires tremendous hard work and we will make every effort to meet these goals. China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.”

President Xi further highlighted his envisioned concept of a ‘green’ GDP, with its views pivoted on contributing to a green future of the world, a sustainable development programme which acknowledged the environmental costs of economic growth.

Unsurprisingly, President Xi has repeatedly spoken of his government’s recognition that economic growth comes at too high a price.

Recently, President Xi called for the building of the “Green Great Wall” to protect the environment in China’s own backyard-a 50-year project which will involve the planting of a massive 88 billion trees.

Because of its commitment to collectively work together with other world leaders in combating climate change, China further roped in African countries to build ‘great walls’ of trees to hold back the desert.

Through President Xi’s visionary leadership, China has successfully managed to sell its regiment plan to tame nature amongst African countries.

President Emerson Mnangagwa recently urged the country to switch to greener energy development, while commissioning the Solgas Solar Project at Cross Mabale, which he said was the country’s transformative shift from thermal power to green energy including solar and wind energy.

Discovery of gas and oil deposits in Muzarabani also offers relief to the country’s energy demands as well as self-reliance.

The beauty of such resources lies in that, Zimbabwe boosted in its efforts to develop sustainable green energy and also, other countries like China can still find ways to support the development of cleaner energy.

President Xi himself is an outstanding environmentalist at home, having outlined a mélange of potentially game changing policies about green land, clean air and blue oceans.

In one of his books titled “Xi Jinping: The Governance of China” President Xi speaks prominently on ushering in a new era of ecological progress, characterised by conservation and environmental protection which will benefit future generations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been advocate for green solutions to global energy problems

“We must strike a balance between economic growth and environmental protection, and bear in mind that protecting the environment equates to protecting productivity and that improving the environment also equates to developing productivity,” writes President Xi.

“We will be more conscientious in promoting green, circular and low carbon development. We will never again seek economic growth at the cost of the environment. It is through land use that ecological progress can be advanced.”

President Xi further explains China’s plans to leave future generations with blue skies, green fields and clean water while encouraging the same in other countries.

“Protecting the environment, addressing climate change and securing energy and resources is a common challenge for the whole world. China will continue to assume its due international obligations, carry out in-depth exchanges and cooperation with all other countries in promoting ecological progress and work with them to promote the sharing of best practices and make the earth an environmentally sound homeland,” he says.

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