Assessing the Impact of China’s Global Infrastructure Spending on Climate Change (807O)

China is investing in massive foreign-infrastructure construction, notably in emerging economies. Whether that infrastructure is high-carbon or low-carbon will largely determine the future of climate change. Many universities and institutions are studying the carbon impacts of China’s foreign-infrastructure investment. That research tends to compare China’s aggregate fossil-fuel-versus-renewable investments, assessing whether those investments meet a clean-energy ideal. New research at Stanford’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance is undertaking this analysis differently. It seeks to map the players and financial flows of global infrastructure investment in a way that compares the carbon intensity of Chinese-financed infrastructure projects in important emerging economies with the carbon intensity of energy infrastructure in those countries that has been financed by multilateral, bilateral, and other non-Chinese entities. This method is designed to reflect the way global infrastructure funding works, politically and economically, in actual practice – and thus to elucidate particularly realistic ways to meaningfully decarbonize Chinese infrastructure financing.

In this policy lab, which is the second phase of the spring 2020 lab, students will advance research toward two sorts of deliverables: a data-analysis and data-visualization tool to map players, financing structures, and carbon emissions from Chinese-financed infrastructure projects in key host countries; and a written account of how Chinese-financed infrastructure is playing out in those countries. The research will involve close interaction with key officials at key infrastructure-financing institutions in China and around the world. Graduate students from across Stanford are invited to apply. Data-analysis skills, energy-finance understanding, and proficiency in Mandarin are useful skills for this work, but they are not required.

The lab seeks graduate students from the disciplines of law, business, engineering and environmental science, and East Asian Studies.

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