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Driving a green recovery in developing countries: what role is China playing?

Research reports

Written by Jodie Keane, Yue Cao, Beatrice Tanjangco, Rebecca Nadin

The Covid-19 pandemic has suspended economic activity, with unprecedented socioeconomic consequences that threaten the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic are also a precursor for the pending challenges due to the climate emergency. Given that climate change represents an existential threat to humanity, post-Covid-19 recovery strategies must set economies on greener recovery trajectories.

This crisis presents an opportunity for governments to ‘build back better’, but this requires political commitment, fiscal space and resources, including external support from pioneers in green finance and technologies. Developing countries face precarious, time-bound and intertemporal decisions as they balance the need to recover from the economic fallout wrought by Covid-19 with addressing the current climate emergency. Against this backdrop, and given China’s own green ambitions, we explore if and how China can support a green recovery internationally.

China is currently the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, but it has signalled at the highest levels that its post-Covid-19 growth path will pivot towards a greener recovery. To what extent is this rhetoric being translated into tangible implementation measures within China’s approach to its broader international development and overseas investment objectives? How can China also contribute to a green recovery in developing countries?

Authors: Jodie Keane, Yue Cao, Beatrice Tanjangco, Manzoor Ahmad, Dylan Johnson and Rebecca Nadin