A Counterfactual Baseline for Assessing Future Environmental Impact: A Case Study of the Belt and Road Initiative

Frontiers Media SA
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Frontiers in Environmental Science, 2021, 9, pp. 724095
Issue Date:
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The impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on the environment is an important but controversial topic. But assessing it faces a significant challenge for separating its policy impact from the overall effect of economic development that will also have environmental impacts. This paper attempts to provide an evolutionary and counterfactual baseline to evaluate the environmental impact of BRI, based on the distribution dynamics approach and the mobility probability plots (MPPs). Our estimation results suggest that while the majority of BRI economies will lower their emission levels compared with the world average, there are significant differences between BRI and non-BRI countrie’s emission patterns and dynamics. The majority of non-BRI economies will have lower emission levels than their BRI counterparts in the absence of BRI policy, indicating that the difference in future emissions between BRI and non-BRI countries should not be completely attributed to the environmental impact of BRI. Instead, BRI should take measures to prevent certain countries from moving upwards energy intensity paths through policy intervention, international cooperation, and an inclusive project assessment process.
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