As China’s Energy Authority announced in May that a public consultation would be held for a draft energy law, setting the agenda for “green, low-carbon” production and a “safe and efficient” energy system, there is concern about compliance by China's State-owned Enterprises. The draft law, which has been 13 years in the making, is an omnibus bill that seeks to unify China’s diverse laws governing coal, renewables and energy conservation. Concern centres on the prominent role of Chinese State-owned enterprises (SoEs) specialising in coal power and resource-extraction that are locking BRI countries into high-emissions pathways. China is the top lender and exporter of coal technologies internationally. A plethora of SoEs, backed by government loans from China Development Bank and China Exim among others, are in fierce competition for projects in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. According to Ma Jun, former chief economist of the People’s Bank of China, “BRI countries could account for over half of global CO2 emissions by 2050”. In Africa, Chinese state-owned enterprises announced two new coal deals in Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe in late 2019. As much as 3.5 gigawatts may be built in Europe, including a new unit for Tuzla’s coal-fired power station in Bosnia and Herzegovina, phase two of a new unit at Kostolac coal-fired power station in Serbia, and the recently announced 350-megawatt Kolubara B coal project also in Serbia. China’s coal financing runs contrary to international financial institutions such as multilateral development banks that have been phasing out or banning direct coal financing. OECD countries and their export credit agencies, for example, have screening conditions in place for the support of coal-fired power, although in practice these have failed to prevent some financing being permitted.

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