While President Trump rolls back environmental protections and announces the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate accord, China is trying to position itself as the world’s climate leader, pledging to cooperate with other countries to build an “eco-civilization.” China has established the largest solar panel farm in the world, plans to close over 100 coal-fired power plants, and is committed to spending at least $361 billion on renewable energy by 2020.All of this is laudable and sorely needed.But if China truly wants to be a climate leader it needs to address its global climate footprint, not just pollution within its borders.China’s lending in Latin American and Caribbean countries provides a telling example of how the country has outsourced its emissions.The Chinese Development Bank and the China Export-Import Bank provided more than $141 billion in loan commitments to Latin America and the Caribbean from 2005 to 2016, far surpassing lending from multilateral banks to the region.These loans have gone mainly to projects with significant environmental effects like oil drilling, coal mining, hydroelectric dam construction and road building. Over half of all public-sector lending from China to Latin America, some $17.2 billion in 2017, went to the fossil-fuel industry.
A true climate leader would invest in the preservation of areas of global ecological importance rather than destroy them.
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