Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced Saturday that his country would have no new coal-fired power generation as part of its contribution in global efforts against climate change.
Khan gave details of the substantial undertaking while addressing the international Climate Ambition Summit 2020, held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The United Nations, United Kingdom, France, Chile and Italy hosted the event, bringing world leaders together to press for greater efforts in curbing global warming.
“We have decided we will not have any more power based on coal,” Khan told the summit. “We have already scrapped two coal power projects, which were supposed to produce 2,600 megawatts of energy, and replaced it by hydroelectricity."
By 2030, Khan said, 60% of all energy produced in Pakistan will be clean and obtained through renewable resources, while 30% of all vehicles will run on electricity.
The prime minister said that while Pakistan accounts for less than 1% of global carbon emissions, it is the "fifth most vulnerable" to effects of climate change, citing data from the 2019 Global Climate Risk Index report.
“I assure you that Pakistan will be doing its best to make its contribution to mitigate the effects of climate change,” Khan said.
Pakistan had just one coal-fired power plant until 2016. China has since invested billions of dollars in the South Asian nation, installing at least nine coal-based power plants with more under construction.
Official data show Pakistan’s coal-based power generation surged to 57% through fiscal 2020, which ended in June, thanks to Beijing’s investments under its Belt and Road Initiative. The collaboration helped Islamabad overcome years of power shortages in the country.
Khan’s government, which took power more than two years ago, has also undertaken a countrywide reforestation campaign to plant more than 3 billion trees by mid-2023 to mitigate the effects of climate change. The massive program, dubbed the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami, went into effect last year, and officials say it has planted more than 500 million saplings across Pakistan.
Addressing the summit, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres urged world leaders to declare a “state of climate emergency” in their respective countries. "If we don't change course, we may be headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3.0 degrees this century," he warned.
The summit marked five years since the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, which seeks to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared with pre-industrial levels.