Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has declared the country will not have any more power based on coal. Image Credit: Agencies

Islamabad: Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan has announced that the country will not approve new coal-fired power generation projects to embrace renewable energy and as part of its contribution in global efforts against climate change.

“We have decided we will not have any more power based on coal,” Khan has declared. “We have already scrapped two coal power projects that were supposed to produce 2,600 megawatts of energy, and replaced it with hydroelectricity.”

The premier made the remarks while speaking at the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 hosted virtually by the United Nations, the United Kingdom, France, Chile and Italy. Discussing indigenous coal, Khan said that his government has decided to support initiatives that produce energy from coal-to-liquid or coal-to-gas so that the fossil fuel doesn’t have to be burnt.

“We have also decided that by 2030, 60 per cent of all energy produced in Pakistan will be from clean energy, renewables” he vowed.

Green policy

The recent “shelving of 2600 MW of imported coal-based projects in Muzaffargarh and Rahim Yar Khan and replacing it with 3,700 MW of hydropower projects demonstrate Pakistan’s green policy shift” Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam told Gulf News. Discussing the country’s ambitious plan to move away from dirty coal, Amin Aslam said that the government has set a bold target to achieve 60 per cent carbon-free energy generation by 2030.

“This would be achieved through renewable energy including solar, hydro and wind as well as nuclear.” The government’s vision is “backed by clear intent and solid commitment for a green future and climate compatible development pathway” he added.

Electric vehicles

Pakistan also plans to shift to 30 per cent electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 to switch over to an emission-free future, the premier shared. The country approved its National Electric Vehicles Policy last year with the aim to convert 30 percent of vehicles on electricity by 2030 and offer incentives to motorists to switch to EVs.

British High Commissioner Christian Turner congratulated Pakistan and PM Imran Khan for global leadership on ‪climate action and moving towards a coal-free future to tackle the threat of ‪climate change. British Secretary of State for Business and Energy Alok Sharma, also welcomed the announcement that “Pakistan will have no new power based on coal” and described it as a “powerful example that the global shift to clean growth is accelerating.”

Pakistan contributes less than one per cent to global emissions but sadly it is the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change. This is why the government has decided to switch to “nature-based solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change”, Khan said. This includes planting ten billion trees in the next three years, increasing the number of national parks and protected areas. In his address, the premier assured that Pakistan would be doing its best to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Pakistan a “clear victim of global climate injustice” which is why the South Asian country “has stepped forward to play its part as a responsible country to help mitigate the effects of global climate change, one of the gravest threats to mankind” Amin Aslam said.

Pakistan’s energy mix

Pakistan, which experiences critical energy crisis, currently generates its power from an energy mix that includes oil, gas (natural gas and liquefied natural gas, LNG), coal, renewable sources (solar, wind and hydro energy), biomass nuclear. Over the last five years, 18 wind power projects of 937MW, six solar power projects of 418MW and six bagasse projects of total of 201 MW were added to the national grid.

Thermal (fossil fuels) – 58.4%

Hydro – 30%

Renewable and nuclear – 10.6%