CPEC’s Energy Question:
Assessing the Environmental Consequences of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
December 11, 2018 | 12:00pm to 02:00 pm
The University Club of Washington, D.C| 1135 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
On 11 December 2018, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in collaboration with the World Sindhi Congress (WSC) will organise a panel discussion entitled “CPEC’s Energy Question: Assessing the Environmental Consequences of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”. The event will bring together academics, students and human rights activists to discuss the inevitable environmental consequences of the mega-project, paying particular attention to the construction of dams in the region.
The multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a crucial component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). CPEC, under current implementation, includes a 660km stretch of highway from China’s Xinjiang (XUAR) region to Balochistan’s Gwadar and is accompanied by the establishment of special economic zones and multiple infrastructure projects. In addition to acting as a transport corridor for shipping containers, also CPEC also aims to connect manufacturing hubs, while supporting industrialisation and promoting energy production along the way. Experts have expressed, however, worrying prospects for the environment. Estimated three-quarters of the power generated by the CPEC’s 19 energy projects (for which 33 billion USD are expected to be spent) will come from coal-powered plants. According to the Asian Development Bank, this newly-generated energy will substantially increase greenhouse emissions, undermining global efforts to mitigate climate change. In addition to the air pollution, the project will lead to inevitable water scarcity within the CPEC development region, seeing as coal power plants require substantial amounts of water.
Furthermore, the CPEC development projects are occurring and scheduled to occur in politically unstable regions. In such areas, local communities have been victims of violence and marginalisation for decades. Numerous experts and non-governmental bodies have reported such vulnerabilities, which are more often than not indigenous and minority groups, stating that such groups are subject to unlawful exploitation of natural resources and usage of their lands. It ought to be noted that aside from the above facts, that indigenous and minority communities in the CPEC development area are often afflicted with serious health implications from the environmentally irresponsible implementation of the mega-project, mostly triggered by air and water pollution.
Against this background, the Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organization (UNPO) and the World Sindhi Congress (WSC) will host a panel discussion on the environmental consequences of the CPEC and regionally affected indigenous and minority communities, with potentially reach far beyond South Asia. Academic experts in the areas of Geography, Environmental and South Asian studies and by representatives of NGOs and political foundations will share their view of the situation and discuss what positive contributions can arise from a debate across the Asian-European border.