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Pakistan signals coal power exit, in potential model for China’s belt and road

(Climate Home News, 16 Dec 2020) Pakistan’s prime minister has called a halt to a Chinese-backed coal power boom, in a pivot to renewables that could inspire others in China’s orbit – if put into action.

On Saturday, Imran Khan told a virtual gathering of global leaders: “We have decided we will not have any more power based on coal”.

Simon Nicholas, an energy finance analyst with Ieefa, said: “On the face of it, this is a highly significant statement for Pakistan, which was until now intending to exploit its domestic coal reserves.” The Pakistani Alliance for Climate Justice and Clean Energy (ACJCE) said the announcement was “a step in the right direction”.

Plants under construction are expected to be completed, but the announcement pours cold water on the national grid operator’s projections of a significant expansion of coal power. As recently as April, the National Transmission and Despatch Company forecast27GW of coal power capacity would be added between 2030 and 2047, bringing the total to 38GW. “This [plan] will now need to be re-written,” Nicholas said.

Sohaib Malik, an energy analyst from Pakistan, said the discrepancy reflected a lack of coordination between government and the power sector. “There’s no integrated plan that all are supposed to follow. They work in silos more often than not,” he told Climate Home.

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Climate Home News, 16 Dec 2020: Pakistan signals coal power exit, in potential model for China’s belt and road