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27 Okt 2021

Zofeen T. Ebrahim, Dawn (Pakistan)

Pakistan's energy transition faces challenges despite China’s coal exit

"China’s coal exit will not end Pakistan’s reliance on dirty fuel", 27 October 2021

Just a few weeks ahead of COP26, China, the world’s biggest public financier of coal, announced that it will end investments in overseas coal projects. It raised hope in countries that want to make low-carbon energy plans and panic among those who feel they cannot do without coal. [...]

Michael Kugelman, deputy director for the Asia programme at US-based think-tank the Wilson Centre, said China’s exit from coal is a “blessing in disguise” with opportunities for “bilateral clean energy cooperation” — a clear win for the environment.

Even Muhammad Badarul Munir, the chief executive of the 100MW Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Pvt Ltd (QASPL) plant, said the end of China’s attachment to overseas coal projects is a “great piece of news”, as it may force the Government of Pakistan to focus on the much-ignored area of solar power. [...]

Given the incredible price surge of gas and coal supplies, Isaad said the time was right for Pakistan to “invest in adequate renewable energy and a storage-based back-up”. But she also admitted: “Pakistan’s energy transition or a move away from fossil fuel-based power will not happen overnight; it will have to be a carefully planned and a well-thought-out phase-out.