Pakistan's Agenda at COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow
Pakistan's contribution to global carbon emissions is less than 1% but it is still ranked among countries most vulnerable to climate change. The energy-hungry nation needs help to finance climate-friendly development of clean energy sources and climate-resilient infrastructure. Pakistan has provided its NDCs 2021 (national determined contribution 2021) to the United Nations ahead of the 26th conference of parties (COP26) starting today in Glasgow, Scotland. Some of Pakistan's NDC targets are voluntary while others are contingent upon the receipt of financial assistance from the rich nations most responsible for the climate crisis. Some of Pakistan's solution are nature-based such as its Billion Tree Afforestation Project (BTAP) while others require significant increase in low-carbon energy from wind, solar, hydro and nuclear.
Malik Amin Aslam, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's special assistant on climate change, said recently in an interview with CNN that his country is seeking to change its energy mix to favor green. He said Pakistan's 60% renewable energy target would to be based on solar, wind and hydro power projects, and 40% would come from hydrocarbon and nuclear which is also low-carbon. “Nuclear power has to be part of the country’s energy mix for future as a zero energy emission source for clean and green future,” he concluded. Here are the key points Aslam made to Becky Anderson of CNN:
1. Pakistan wants to be a part of the solution even though it accounts for less than 1% of global carbon emissions.
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The UK has announced more than £55m of support to help Pakistan tackle climate change as part of the COP26 global climate change summit this week.
The UK has announced more than £55m of support to help Pakistan tackle climate change as part of the COP26 global climate change summit this week.
As global leaders come together for COP26, this is a critical time for Pakistan. It has been ranked the 8th most vulnerable country to climate change, and by 2100, rising temperatures mean 36% of glaciers along the Hindu Kush & Himalayan range will be gone.
The UK has already achieved notable successes. 90% of the world’s economy is now covered by net zero targets, up from less than 30% when the UK took on the Presidency of COP26. This will help the most vulnerable countries like Pakistan.
The new funding for climate change in Pakistan is split into three parts:
*A 5-year climate resilience programme - worth £38 million - will help Pakistan’s poorest communities to protect themselves from the changing climate;
*A 5-year water governance programme - worth £15 million – will make water use in Pakistan more sustainable and water access fairer;
*An additional £2.5 million to support new ways of attracting much needed climate investment to Pakistan, including on the development of a Nature Performance Bond. On World Environment Day in June alongside Prime Minister Imran Khan the UK committed to this. The British High Commissioner was due to announce the urgently needed new programmes at a high-level reception for climate change stakeholders at the British High Commission in Islamabad this evening (November 4th).
Dr Christian Turner CMG said: “For Pakistan, climate change could be catastrophic. That is why we are working together on trees and finance, and mobilising leading Pakistani businesses. This £55m new funding will ensure Pakistan becomes more resilient to climate impacts, with more sustainable water use and greater access to climate finance, so improving lives and livelihoods.
On COP26, the UK has been working with Pakistan on:
A #26For26 campaign to have 26 Pakistani companies commit to halving emissions by 2030 and getting to net zero by 2050. 29 companies have so far signed up;
Pakistan successfully joining more than 100 countries to pledge to end and reverse deforestation by 2030.
Even before COP26, the UK had been working closely with Pakistan on climate change, and will provide £7m this year to help the country achieve its climate change objectives. Earlier this year the UK launched a new programme in Lahore to promote cleaner brick production practices which will help improve air quality, reduce smog and fight climate change.
World Bank official lauds measures operational in the areas of climate change and employment in the country
Pakistan on Wednesday unveiled its innovative Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (ESRI), initiated with a $180 million support from the World Bank, at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
The details were revealed at the Pakistan pavilion at the event, organised to bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Pakistan's initiative was launched at the COP25 held in Madrid in 2019, and it is now operational with interventions like honey production and marketing, green jobs, mangrove restoration, expansion of protected areas, and transition to electric vehicles.
ESRI has been placed under National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) to align the country with the global climate change agenda through supporting initiatives and projects, and financial and technical requirements.
According to Fawad Hayat, who is leading the initiative through NDRMF, Pakistan will now contribute its share in ecosystem restoration in the next three years by planting 188.88 million trees, providing 79,746 green jobs, managing 60 protected areas, and giving employment to 6,000 nehgaibans (watchers) from the local communities.
Hayat observed that the unique project emerged during the pandemic when people started losing their jobs.
"Inspired by President Johnson’s initiative during the Great Depression, we started the ‘Green Stimulus’ in Pakistan and the World Bank showed great flexibility in re-purposing funds for the nature's protection. The idea was to protect nature and give jobs and we will be fully rolling out the project in the next month,” Malik Amin remarked.
In his remarks during a visit to the pavilion, VP Sustainable Development, World Bank Juergen Voegele, said: “Kudos to the government of Pakistan, which is evolving as a leader by focusing on both climate and Covid."
"This is the way to do it, this is the future, this is green thinking with a comprehensive approach to restoring ecosystems,” he added.
Under the project, 15,000 beekeepers will be trained and the honey industry will be established producing abundant export quality honey. The aim is to create over 6,000 eco-tourism jobs for local communities and restore 55,000 acres of mangroves forest along with promoting a shift towards electric public transport in all major cities of Pakistan.
The pilot project for the Billion Tree Honey Project has already proven to be successful with beekeepers producing 40 per cent more honey and better marketing of the honey will now start.
Aside from expanding the mangrove area, an eco-tourism is hoped to kick off in Pakistan, involving local communities. Further, electric vehicles will be introduced at the hospitals and schools to reduce local emissions, being 60 per cent cheaper to operate.
Pakistan is today one of the few countries that are investing in natural capital and post-Covid initiatives, creating jobs and protecting nature.
Pakistan German Climate and Energy Initiative signed with German bank KFW
United Nations Climate Change Summit also called the ‘Conference of the Parties’ or COP26 continued on its second day with speeches from various heads of state in the city of Glasgow in Scotland.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was due to attend the 2-day World Leaders Summit, backed out at the last minute due to 'domestic issues' according to the Special Assistant to the PM on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam who is now heading the ten person strong Pakistani delegation to the COP.
He is being accompanied by the Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul. Both have been meeting delegations from other countries in bilateral meetings and attending side events since the Summit formally opened on Monday. In Glasgow, countries are under pressure to cuts their emission further beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid dangerous warming and to finally operationalize the Paris Agreement.
The global methane pledge was formally launched at COP26 yesterday. Malik Aslam met US President Joe Biden when Pakistan officially joined more than 80 nations who signed up for the US led global methane pledge agreeing to cut methane emissions by 30% by the end of this decade in an effort to tackle climate change.
Cutting methane, a potent but relatively short lived gas which comes from sources like fuel extraction and livestock farming, is seen as an effective short term contribution to climate action. “President Biden thanked PM Imran Khan for committing to the pledge,” said Aslam.
Pakistan, as one of the world's top 30 methane emitters, has now committed to tackling methane from livestock and flare gas capture. President Biden thanked all those who have signed the 'game changing commitment' and said at the ceremony that this would not only help climate change but also improve health, cut crop losses and reduce pollution. Methane is said to contribute 80 times more to global warming than carbon dioxide.
Aslam also chaired two events at the Pakistan Pavilion including a briefing on the current government's flagship 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Program and a launch of the Pakistan German Climate and Energy Initiative signed with German bank KFW under the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Partnership.
Pakistan recently updated its NDC document in the run up to COP26 in which it announced that it will shift to clean energy by converting 30% of its transportation to electric vehicles and that 60% of all energy produced in the country will be generated by renewable energy sources by 2030.
Germany has committed 60 million euros to Pakistan to be used for renewable energy and this initiative has added a 'green dimension' to the 70 year old partnership between the two countries. “This is a win for us and a win for the world,” said Aslam.
The German development bank KFW had earlier pledged funding to an independent 3 party assessment of the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project which will be led by World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“It is very important to have 100% credibility and 100% transparency. The success of the project depends on this,” said Aslam at the launch of the initiative. The Pakistani pavilion is hosting a number of side events in the coming two weeks of the UN Climate Conference.
Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world. In order to defend against the destructive effects of a warming planet, the government plans to plant 10 billion trees by 2023. Shahzeb Jillani reports from District Mansehra in northern Pakistan.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surprising and ambitious climate target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2070, announced at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, has attracted wide attention and sparked a heated discussion.
While some people believe the new target will mark a promising first step in setting India on a path to emissions reduction, which is commendable, others appear skeptical as to whether India can deliver on its promises.
Such a question is not without foundation. According to the recently released Global Hunger Index 2021, India was ranked 101 out of 116 countries and regions, behind such economies as Sudan and Mali, and was one among the nations in which hunger was classified as "serious." Although the Indian economy is estimated to be one of the fastest-growing in the world in 2022, many of its people still live in extreme poverty.
Even though some in the West expressed disappointment that India's climate target is 20 years behind that of most other countries, the willingness of India, with its large poor population, to make a step forward toward limiting global warming is still commendable.
However, it is an open question as to whether India's economy can support its ambitious emissions-reduction target. The 2015 Paris climate agreement's goal to limit global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels is supposed to address climate change and its negative impacts. Yet, if emissions-reduction efforts fail to consider improving livelihoods, domestic pressure of hunger will likely derail environmental protection efforts.
In the case of India, its credibility on delivering on its climate promise will largely depend on whether it is able to tackle poverty and hunger issues. The same is true for other developing countries.
When Western leaders tout their efforts toward limiting global warming by pressuring the developing world to sign up for bigger targets, they are, in effect, passing the buck of climate action. Developed countries have used fossil fuels for decades or longer to enjoy the benefits of high living standards, contributing to historic emissions much higher than developing countries that are reluctant to stop using their share of fossil fuels to give up the interests of their poor population.
When Western leaders talked a big game about their emissions-reduction targets and criticized those deemed as uncooperative at the COP26, no one mentioned how they would ensure the development of poverty-stricken countries. If the West does not have a clear and workable plan for poverty alleviation in developing countries, the entire climate targets would be flawed for disregarding the fact that developing countries may not have the basis to deliver on their promises.
For developing countries, the hope of accessing financial help from the West during the climate cooperation seems increasingly like a long shot, given the West's broken 2009 promise of offering $100 billion annually till 2020 to support the poor countries' climate transition.
Under these circumstances, if any one from the advanced economies still think that the developing world needs to commit more to the climate action, they should go to India to experience the real hunger before lecturing others.
The Zero Carbon Cultural Centre serves as a community centre and social space for people living in poor and marginalised communities in the town, which is located in southern Pakistan.
It was designed by the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan specifically to host hands-on workshops for locals to strengthen their skills and help them live better-quality lives.
The Zero Carbon Cultural Centre is being showcased today as part of Lari's guest editorship for Dezeen 15 – an online festival celebrating Dezeen's fifteenth birthday.
As part of the event, Lari, who is the co-founder of the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, will present her manifesto for "a humanistic, inclusive architecture that is driven by environmental considerations" in a live interview with Dezeen's editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs.
According to the architect, the centre is the biggest bamboo structure in Pakistan and one of the largest in the world.
It was completed in 2017 on a 1.6-hectare site, chosen for its proximity to the poor communities in the shadow of the Makli Necropolis – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to clusters of ancient funerary monuments.
The pavilion takes the form of a large hangar, topped by a large thatched roof and surrounded by decorative bamboo screens. It measures 27 metres in length and is 18 metres wide, and at its highest point it reaches 11 metres.
Its design was developed by the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan to embody Lari's philosophy of "barefoot social architecture" (BASA).
The goal of BASA is to uplift impoverished communities without impacting the planet. This involves creating structures with local materials that are low-carbon and low-cost, as opposed to expensive materials such as concrete and steel.
In this case, the pavilion makes use of bamboo, a type of fast-growing grass, which was sourced from within southern Pakistan.
Bamboo was chosen as it is both renewable and highly durable. It also allowed the organisation to work with local artisans who are adept at using the material, and local people who wanted to learn how to build with it.
The pavilion is composed of large prefabricated bamboo panels, measuring eight metres in height and 1.5 metres in width.
Prefabrication ensured a quick construction process and optimum quality control, as each panel was made under supervision in a workshop. It was complete in just 10 weeks.
"The resulting structure carried the sweat and pride of the local surrounding community and has become a source of great pride due to its size and unique characteristics," Lari told Dezeen.
The final open structure of the pavilion, combined with its thatched roof, ensures that the space remains cool and usable throughout hot summers without air conditioning.
Its open layout also caters for a variety of uses. In line with the objectives of BASA, it is used to teach local people how to make a variety of products with local materials, including terracotta tiles, smokeless stoves from mud and lime and compostable toilets.
Alongside workshops, it is also used for performances, lectures and conferences.
Addressing world leaders at the cop26 jamboree in Glasgow this week, Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, listed five commitments to tackle climate change, including a promise to achieve carbon neutrality by 2070 and several shorter-term goals. Mr Modi also took the opportunity to point out that while poor countries bear a mere fraction of the blame for creating the world’s climate mess, some, such as India, have done better at keeping environmental commitments than many rich countries.
He is right. With 18% of the world’s people, India is reckoned to have caused just 3% of accumulated CO2 emissions. Yet even as Indian leaders repeatedly—and sometimes justifiably—take the moral high ground on climate change’s long-term challenges, their people continue to suffer and die from its immediate, home-grown causes.
Dr Arvind Kumar should know. When he started working as a chest surgeon in Delhi 30 years ago, nine-tenths of lung cancer patients were smokers and nearly all were men over 50. Now half of them do not smoke, 40% are women and their mean age is a decade younger. He regularly sees children with blackened lungs. “The urgent issue we need to face is not CO2,” says Dr Kumar. “It is about our own health and the health of the next generation.”
The trouble is not just in Delhi. In winter the Himalayas trap the combined exhaust of the 600m people who populate the sprawling Indo-Gangetic Plain. From diesel pumps for irrigation to cremation pyres and from coal-fired power plants to gas-guzzling suvs, the smoke combines in a toxic stew that can hang for weeks in the season’s typically windless conditions. Big provincial cities such as Lucknow and Patna are just as sooty as Delhi. So are many rural areas.
Across this whole region, reckon researchers from the University of Chicago in a recent study, air pollution is likely to reduce life expectancy by an average of more than nine years. Research published late last year in the Lancet, a medical journal, estimates that in 2019 alone some 1.67m Indians died from the effects of pollution, accounting for one in six of the country’s deaths. The authors put the cost to India of lost productivity at some $36.8bn, in addition to $11.9bn spent on treating illnesses caused by pollution, equal to a total of 1.8% of gdp. They emphasise that these are conservative estimates.
The weight of public opinion is one thing. The rustle of cash may prove more persuasive. Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest tycoons, both built colossal fortunes from hydrocarbons. Far nimbler than India’s government, they are pivoting to green energy. Mr Adani, king of Indian coal until last year, has gone on such a binge that his green-energy arm is now India’s biggest renewable-power supplier. International investors are getting into the act, too. So far in 2021 $9.67bn has been poured into Indian green bonds. That is nearly as much as in the previous five years combined
Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari has developed a mud and lime-plaster stove that counters the unfavourable environmental and health consequences of cooking with open fires.
Lari first developed the stove back in 2014 through Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, which she co-founded with her husband. At the time, the foundation had been working with non-literate women residing in suburban and rural regions of Pakistan to raise awareness of the implications of open-flame cooking.
As well as polluting the air with carbon, regularly preparing meals over open fires increases the risk of domestic fires, skin burns and serious respiratory or heart diseases. The need for firewood also promotes deforestation and can have family members searching for logs for hours at a time.
Lari's eco-alternative, named Pakistan Chulah Cookstove, is instead fuelled by agricultural waste like cow dung, or sawdust bricks, which the architect says cuts the use of firewood by 50 to 70 per cent.
The Pakistan Chulah Cookstove is being showcased as part of Lari's contribution to the Dezeen 15 festival, alongside a manifesto she has written that calls for a new form of social architecture that benefits disadvantaged people. Lari will speak about her manifesto and her work in a live interview with Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs.
Made from locally-sourced mud and CO2-absorbing lime plaster, the stove comprises a fire chamber, an air regulation pipe, a hand-washing area, a ledge where cooking utensils or dinnerware can be kept, and a chimney which keeps any smoke incurred from the fire to a minimum.
The whole structure sits atop a chunky raised platform, providing a clean area for families to enjoy their meals. This platform also means that, in the event of a flood, the stoves are less likely to be washed away.
The task of rolling out the stoves to rural communities was given to "barefoot entrepreneurs". They are a result of Lari's Barefoot Social Architecture programme which, in part, seeks to give impoverished Pakistanis profitable livelihoods by providing them with paid work on eco-friendly projects.
Heritage Foundation of Pakistan would pay the entrepreneurs the equivalent of two dollars for each woman they trained in building a stove, and cover the six-dollar cost of materials, culminating in just an eight-dollar spend per stove.
In 2018 the stove won the UN World Habitat prize and by the end of 2019, over 60,000 stoves had been built. The foundation and Lari soon realised that the stove made a wealth of other positive impacts.
"The stove improves cooking efficiency by around 25 per cent," the architect explained. "It also becomes a focal point in the village where women from neighboring houses could meet and interact, strengthening social ties."
Many of the women also used leftover plaster or brightly coloured paints to create intricate patterns on the front of their stoves, turning each one into a "spectacular work of art".
Families additionally use the stoves as a way to keep warm during the winter months – Lari is hoping to make a new model that's capable of directing heat into the rooms of rural homes.
Malik Amin Aslam lays out the country’s climate action path.
Q: Given the message it could send to the investment community, and the potential for raising investment for green growth, why has Pakistan decided not to declare a net-zero year for this Conference of the Parties?
A: In Pakistan, we do not believe in the net-zero concept at the moment. We believe in the concept of a decisive decade in the next 10 years. If the world does not change in the next 10 years, then we will be too late for any net zeros in 2050, 2060 or 2070. I believe that net zero if it translates into concrete action in the next decade is good, but most of these announcements are just announcements.
Pakistan has done something different, a very clear directional shift [is] happening in the next 10 years – going 60% zero-carbon [in energy production] by 2030, clean transport, going 30% electric by 2030 and trusting and investing in nature. We have the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami, which is already ongoing, 15 new national parks being declared in the last year alone amd Recharge Pakistan, using floodwaters for restoring our wetlands and managing and adapting to climate change. We want to reinvigorate the momentum for these initiatives in the coming decade. The last decade has been a decade of disappointment on climate change, and the next decade has to be the decade of action. If that does not happen, net zero does not matter.
Q: Pakistan’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution is ambitious, with a total target of a 50% emissions reduction by 2030 (part of that being conditional on international financing), compared to projected emissions between 2015 and 2030. What time frame are you looking at to peak emissions?
A: We have done our arithmetic on the emissions and believe that with the sequestration projects that we are doing, Pakistan could well be on its way to levelling all its emissions. Our Nationally Determined Contribution shows that we have gone 9% below our business-as-usual trajectory in 2020, and we can go 50% below by 2030. It is a very clear directional target, but we have made it conditional on getting $100 billion of finance which can allow us to make a clean and just energy transition.
We are not talking about climate change in a silo, we are shifting the direction of our mainstream development towards being climate friendly. That is what really needs to happen all across the world. Pakistan is still responsible for less than 1% of global emissions – even if we closed down everything in Pakistan, it would not matter for the world. What does matter is that a country like Pakistan is paving the way towards climate-friendly development, based on nature and based on clean energy.
Negotiators from about 200 countries are entering Week 2 of climate talks trying to resolve big issues around money, transparency and timelines.
The international climate summit here has been billed by its chief organizer as the “last, best hope” to save the planet. But as the United Nations conference enters its second week and negotiators from 197 countries knuckle down to finalize a new agreement to tackle global warming, attendees were sharply divided over how much progress is being made.
There’s the optimistic view: Heads of state and titans of industry showed up in force last week with splashy new climate promises, a sign that momentum was building in the right direction.
“I believe what is happening here is far from business as usual,” said John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy on climate change, who has been attending U.N. climate summits since 1992. “I have never counted as many initiatives and as much real money — real money — being put on the table.”
For example, 105 countries agreed to cut emissions of methane, a potent planet-warming gas, by 30 percent this decade. Another 130 countries vowed to halt deforestation by 2030 and commit billions of dollars toward the effort. India for the first time joined the growing chorus of nations pledging to reach “net zero” emissions, setting a 2070 deadline to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Then there’s the pessimistic view: All these gauzy promises mean little without concrete plans to follow through. And that’s still lacking. Or, as the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg put it, the conference has mostly consisted of “blah, blah, blah.”
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Malik Amin Aslam, an adviser to the prime minister of Pakistan, scoffed at some of the distant net zero goals being announced, including India’s: “With an average age of 60, I don’t think anyone in the negotiating room would live to experience that net zero in 2070,” he said.
On Monday, former President Barack Obama arrived at the summit to rally leaders. “Yes, the process will be messy,” he said. “I guarantee you every victory will be incomplete. Sometimes, we will be forced to settle for imperfect compromises. But at least they advance the ball down the field. If we work hard enough, for long enough, those partial victories add up.”
Critics noted that some of last week’s announcements turned out to be full of caveats. After signing the forest pledge, officials in Indonesia, home to the world’s third-largest rainforest, clarified that ending deforestation in their country by 2030 at the expense of economic development was “obviously inappropriate and unfair.” Another vow by more than 40 countries to phase out coal power featured vague timelines and left out major coal users like China, India and the United States.
“The actual negotiations here are in danger of being drowned out by a blitz of news releases that get great headlines, but are often less than meets the eye,” said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a research institute based in Kenya. “There’s a lot of good talk and less real action.”
Mr. Adow said the summit should be judged on whether all 197 parties can craft a detailed, formal agreement that holds governments accountable for the promises they make. That would mean reaching consensus on wonky but crucial questions like how often nations should strengthen their near-term plans to cut emissions, the amount and type of financial aid that rich countries should give poorer ones to cope with the mounting dangers of climate change, and how to regulate the booming global market in carbon offsets.
A layer of toxic foam coated parts of a sacred river near India's capital on Wednesday as Hindus gathered on its banks to celebrate a religious festival and some devotees bathed in the waters.
The white froth, a mixture of sewage and industrial waste, formed over the last week in sections of the Yamuna River -- a tributary of the holy Ganges River -- which flows about 855 miles (1,376 kilometers) south from the Himalayas through several states.
The pungent foam contains high levels of ammonia and phosphates, which can result in respiratory and skin problems, according to experts. Its arrival coincided with Chhath Puja, a festival dedicated to the sun god Lord Surya. Earlier this week, some Hindus were seen wading through the toxic foam to bathe and pray in the river.
Devotee Gunjan Devi said Tuesday she had no choice but to bathe in the polluted waters.
"The water is extremely dirty but we don't have many options," she said, Reuters reported. "It is a ritual to take a bath in a water body so we have come here to bathe."
According to the Press Trust of India, 15 boats have been deployed by the government to remove the foam, but experts fear it has already caused significant damage.
"The river in Delhi's stretch is an ecologically dead river," said Bhim Singh Rawat, from the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP). "It doesn't have fish or fresh water birds. That has been the case for years now."
For decades, sections of the Yamuna have been plagued by the dumping of toxic chemicals and untreated sewage. In several sections, the river appears dark and sludgy, while plastic waste lines its banks.
The river is most polluted in areas surrounding Delhi, owing to the city's dense population and high levels of waste. Only 2% of the river's length flows through the capital, but Delhi contributes about 76% of the river's total pollution load, according to a government monitoring committee.
Rawat, from SANDRP, said the polluted river is impacting people living in several cities downstream, including Faridabad, Noida and Agra. "Thousands of villagers take irrigation water from the river, they take buckets to the river for bathing and drinking," he said.
In 2017, similar looking foam appeared on Varthur Lake in the southern city of Bangalore. Strong gusts of wind carried the frothy chemical cocktail onto roads.
The same year, a lake in Bangalore erupted into flames, which experts believe was due to traces of petroleum in the water.
The mask is also found to be comfortable for the cows, as they can also be adjusted according to the head size. It is applied to them after they are weaned, usually at 6-8 months of age. At the tip of the mask, a sensor detects the percentage of methane that is expelled when the cow exhales. When methane levels get too high, the mask channels the gas towards an oxidation mechanism inside, which contains a catalyst that converts methane into CO2 and water, and expels it from the device. "The technology detects, captures and oxidises methane when it is exhaled by the animals," said Francisco Norris, one of the two brothers who founded the firm. "Around 95 per cent of the cattle's methane emissions come from their nostrils and mouths," Norris added. Zelp has conducted behavioural trials and observations with institutions in the UK and Argentina, including the Royal Veterinary College, which have indicated that the wearable has no impact on the animal's behaviour and feeding.
China, Russia, and India are the top three emitters of greenhouse gas. Though the top three methane emitters have decided not to be a signatory, six on the list of the world's top 10 methane producers—the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Mexico—have taken the pledge.
Agents Emitting Methane Livestock emission—from manure and gastroenteric releases amounts to 32 per cent of human-caused methane emission. With the ever-increasing global population, the demand for animal protein has also increased worldwide. Another contributor to agriculture methane is paddy rice cultivation, where the flooded fields prevent the oxygen from penetrating the soil. This accounts for another 8 per cent of human-made emissions. How To Cut Down Methane Emission It has been said cutting methane emissions is the quickest way to tackle climate change since the gas has accounted for roughly 30 per cent of global warming since pre-industrial times and has been rapidly multiplying. UNEP Food Systems and Agriculture Advisor James Lomax says the world needs to begin by "rethinking our approaches to agricultural cultivation and livestock production." It includes leveraging new technology, shifting towards plant-rich diets, and embracing alternative sources of protein. Lomax says that it will be key if humanity is to slash greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5°C, a target of the Paris climate change agreement.
Approximately 150 million households around the globe are engaged in milk production. In most developing countries, milk is produced by smallholders, and milk production contributes to household livelihoods, food security and nutrition. Milk provides relatively quick returns for small-scale producers and is an important source of cash income.
In the last three decades, world milk production has increased by more than 59 percent, from 530 million tonnes in 1988 to 843 million tonnes in 2018.
India is the world’s largest milk producer, with 22 percent of global production, followed by the United States of America, China, Pakistan and Brazil.
Since the 1970s, most of the expansion in milk production has been in South Asia, which is the main driver of milk production growth in the developing world.
Milk production in Africa is growing more slowly than in other developing regions, because of poverty and – in some countries – adverse climatic conditions.
The countries with the highest milk surpluses are New Zealand, the United States of America, Germany, France, Australia and Ireland.
The countries with the highest milk deficits are China, Italy, the Russian Federation, Mexico, Algeria and Indonesia.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a 3,000-kilometer-long route of infrastructure projects connecting northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the Gwadar Port in the western province of Balochistan in Pakistan.
On Saturday, the first hydropower project along this corridor, the Karot Hydropower Station, closed the gates of its diversion tunnels after six years of construction, and officially started to impound water. That's the accumulation of water in its reservoir for future use.
It's a milestone event, marking the completion of around 95 percent of the project.
Engineers recounted challenges in the construction of the hydropower plant.
"We spent two years working out solutions to cope with the sandstone and mudstone underground, which interrupted our grouting work. We made it after repeated trial and error. The cement used for the construction was produced locally, so we tried very hard to control temperature rise and reduce cracks in the concrete," Zuo Yaxi, head of the Engineering Department of China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Ltd. (CSAIL), told CGTN in an interview.
The Karot Hydropower Station is located on the Jhelum River in Pakistan's eastern province of Punjab. With an installed capacity of 7,200 megawatts, it can provide over 3 billion kilowatt hours of clean energy each year, supplying electricity to about 5 million people in the country.
The project did not only provide employment, but will also bring down electricity costs for consumers.
N.A. Zubeiri, CSAIL senior consultant explained to CGTN that "during construction, about 3,000 to 5,000 people will be employed, and they're already employed here. Another important thing is that the tariff for the project is around 7.5 U.S. cents per unit. So consumers in Pakistan will get cheaper electricity from this basic project."
The project is an investment by China Three Gorges Corporation, a Chinese enterprise that's among the world's largest producers of hydroelectric power. Its subsidiary, the CSAIL, holds the majority share of the Karot Power Company that operates the plant.
The plant will be transferred to the provincial government after 30 years.
"This project is coming from private sectors. After completing 30 years, this project will be transferred to the provincial government, which means the government of Punjab will get a project of $1.7 billion for free," Zubeiri added.
The Karot Hydropower Station is the first investment project of the Silk Road Fund, and is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Once completed, it's expected to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Pakistan by 3.5 million tonnes per year.
WAPDA Chairman Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain (retd) highlighted this in the meeting with a delegation of JP Morgan comprising senior representatives namely Asif Raza, Managing Director Global Corporate Bank CEEMEA, Imran Zaidi, Managing Director Global Corporate Bank covering Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Amin M Khawaja, Chief Executive Officer Pakistan. WAPDA Member (Finance) Naveed Asghar was also present on the occasion.
Giving a run-down of 10 under construction WAPDA projects, the chairman said that these projects would enhance water storage capacity by more than 11 MAF and add another 9,000 MW of hydel electricity to the system. WAPDA has unparalleled institutional capacity to identify and implement multipurpose hydropower projects. It has adopted a multi-pronged strategy including Green Eurobonds and Syndicate loans etc for implementation of its projects. This was a radical shift from entire reliance on the Government of Pakistan. WAPDA’s business model has an important role to play in the development of a sustainable and lower-carbon economy in Pakistan, he said. The chairman said that WAPDA would continue to approach the international financial and capital market in a staggered mode, to minimise financing cost, in line with its financing requirements and would look forward to bring further investments in the hydropower sector which would go a long way to reduce carbon footprint in the power generation sector of Pakistan. He appreciated the role played by JP Morgan as the lead arranger for WAPDA’s debut Green Eurobond issuance alongside Deutsche, Standard Chartered and HBL Bank.
Shaukat Qureshi, general secretary of the Pakistan Electric Vehicles and Parts Manufacturers and Traders Association, said the new tax cuts mean savings of up to 500,000 rupees ($2,900) on imported small electric vehicles.
He said many members of the association have used the incentives to order them for the first time.
There are no reliable figures on how many electric cars local importers have ordered brought into the country since the government announced the exemptions.
But in his other role as chief operating officer of car company Zia Electromotive, which imports and manufactures electric vehicles, Qureshi said he has ordered 100 small electric cars from China and plans to import 100 more every month after that.
Pakistanis - like many other people around the world - have historically been reluctant to switch to electric vehicles for reasons ranging from higher costs to lack of charging infrastructure and "fear of the unknown", said Ayaz at the EDB.
The tax cuts help remove the cost obstacle, he said - and could help create about 20,000 new jobs in the auto industry as Pakistani car companies start manufacturing electric cars, he predicted.
The charging infrastructure issue remains, though some companies have already established charging stations in big cities and along motorways.
Climate change and development expert Ali Tauqeer Sheikh said the government should encourage the private sector to install more charging stations near offices, homes and parking lots.
To overcome worries that electric vehicles may have no resale value, car manufacturers and dealers could offer buy-back guarantees, he added.
But, Sheikh said, simply selling more electric cars is not enough to tackle Pakistan's emissions and air pollution, since the total number of vehicles being sold - mainly traditional cars - is still growing every year.
He said the government needs to push to completely phase out fuel-run and hybrid vehicles by increasing taxes on them and provide affordable bank loans for people looking to buy electric.
"Poor people who use motorbikes and rickshaws deserve to have more electric vehicles on the roads to cut air pollution," he said.
BEIJING, Nov 4 (APP): Pakistan Ambassador to China, Moinul Haque on Thursday called on Liu Ziqing, Member of Municipal standing committee and Secretary of Working Committee of Wuhan and discussed cooperation between Pakistan and Wuhan in the industrial and technological sectors.
During the meeting held at Demonstration Zone of Wuhan new energy and smart network, Liu Ziqing briefed the ambassador about the immense growth potential of Wuhan city particularly in the areas of biotechnology, semiconductors and new energy and smart network. Moreover, the demonstration zone was being developed into an auto valley.
He offered collaboration between automobile companies of the two countries in this special zone.
Recalling that during the opening ceremony of the Military Games held in Wuhan in October 2019, Pakistani contingent was given a standing ovation by the cheering crowd in the presence of President Xi Jinping.
Liu Ziqing said that the people of Wuhan have a special bond of friendship with Pakistan and would like to enhance joint collaboration in diverse areas.
Ambassador Haque remarked that due to their consistent efforts, cooperation between Pakistan and Wuhan was growing rapidly in many new areas.
He noted that new energy vehicles was an important area of cooperation between the two countries as demand for electric vehicles was increasing in Pakistan and invited Chinese Electric Vehicle manufacturing companies to invest in Pakistani market.
The ambassador paid tribute to the brave people of Wuhan for their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and also thanked Wuhan government for looking after Pakistani students during the pandemic.
Earlier, Ambassador Moinul Haque was given a detailed briefing about the development of new energy vehicles in Wuhan at the demonstration zone. He was also given a tour of locally manufactured AI based driverless electric bus.
2 solar parks will be established in suburbs of Karachi, each on a 600-acre land
Under the initiative, two solar parks will be established in suburbs of Karachi each having the area of 600 acres. One of the parks will be established in Maghopir area of District West and the other clean energy facility will be set up in District Malir of Karachi. Each of the park will generate 175 MWs of clean electricity. The project is expected to be completed in two years with a cost of $40 million.
The Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company, which is a subsidiary of Sindh government’s Energy Department, will lay the transmission line for evacuation of electricity from the solar parks. The K-Electric will be the buyer of the clean electricity and will also establish grid stations for the purpose.
Sindh Energy Minister, Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh, said the provincial government is committed to utilise renewable and indigenous resources for clean power generation for the people of Sindh.
He said the utilisation of the solar power would go a long way to protect the Karachi’s environment and also bring down the cost of electricity for the power consumers in the city.
He said the Sindh government had been making speedy progress to utilise solar power to generate electricity as per the international environmental standards.
The Energy Minister mentioned that after establishing solar parks in Karachi, similar clean energy facilities would be established in Hyderabad, Larkana, Sukkur, and other cities of Sindh.
The MoU was signed by the K-Electric’s CEO, Moonis Abdullah Alvi, and Sindh government’s Energy Secretary Abu Bakar Madani. The World Bank’s Country Director in Pakistan, Najy Benhassine, attended the MoU signing ceremony virtually.
akistan has completed the loading of fuel at its Chinese-assisted Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-3 to celebrate three decades of cooperation with its “all-weather ally” China, according to a media report here on Saturday.
Pakistani authorities, after getting a formal permit from the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), completed the fuel loading process of the second 1,100-megawatt nuclear power plant on Friday, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported.
It said that the ceremony to mark “three decades of cooperation between China and Pakistan in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy” as well as of the fuel loading of Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-3, commonly known as K-3, was attended by top officials of nuclear energy related organisations from the two countries.
The report said that K-3 is in the final stages of commissioning and after operational and safety tests, the plant is expected to begin commercial operation by the end of March 2022.
A new era in the nuclear power development programme of Pakistan commenced with the signing of the 'Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy' between the governments of China and Pakistan in 1986, according to the report.
However, the first concrete step in the remarkable journey was taken 30 years ago when China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) signed the contract for construction and installation of a 325-megawatt Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) at Chashma on December 31, 1991, it said.
The cooperation strengthened with the construction of three more nuclear power plants at Chashma Nuclear Power Generation Station (CNPGS) site.
The contract for the construction of two more units having a generation capacity of 1,100 megawatts each near Karachi was signed on February 18, 2013. These units are called Karachi Nuclear Power Plant Unit-2 and 3 (K-2 and K-3).
After the groundbreaking of K-2 and K-3 in November 2013, the construction of K-3 was formally started.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, both Pakistan and China faced all odds and continued the construction work. K-2 successfully started commercial operation on May 21, 2021, and now K-3 is expected to do so by the end of March 2022.
K-2 and K-3 are pressurised water reactors based on the Chinese ACP-1000 design and are generation-three plants equipped with advanced safety features.
With the connection of K-2 and K-3 into the national grid, the share of nuclear power in the energy mix of Pakistan will exceed 10 per cent, according to the report.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Islamabad expands use of lignite to ease burden of expensive imported fuel
Work on the third phase of the Thar Coal Block II mine expansion is set to begin this year at an estimated cost of $93 million, according to the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), a public-private enterprise operating the mine since 2019 in the southeastern district of Tharparkar. The second phase of expansion is underway with the help of China Machinery Engineering Corp. and Chinese bank loans, in addition to local financing. The series of expansions will scale up the annual production of lignite from 3.8 million tons to 12.2 million tons by 2023.
The output from the second phase of expansion will feed two 330 MW coal-fired power plants being built under the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor projects, part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's flagship Belt and Road Initiative. The power plants are expected to come on line this year.
Lignite is brown coal with low calorific value due to high moisture and low carbon content.
The expansion of the Thar coalfields is aimed at curbing coal imports to ease a staggering current-account deficit made worse by soaring international commodity prices and shipping costs. Pakistan's current-account deficit ballooned to an unprecedented $9.09 billion between July and December last year, as imports continued to outstrip exports during the post-COVID economic recovery. Pakistan had to seek a $3 billion loan and a deferred payment facility on the import of petroleum products from Saudi Arabia last year to stabilize forex reserves.
In recent years, high volatility in international oil prices, soaring LNG prices and dwindling local gas reserves have spurred public-private spending, particularly Chinese investment, in Pakistan's coal power sector. Until now, four coal-fired power plants with 4.62 GW of total installed capacity have joined the grid, while another three plants with an aggregate capacity of 1.98 GW are expected to come online over the next two years -- all under CPEC. In addition, growing demand from cement factories banking on a global construction boom has tripled coal consumption over the last five years to 21.5 million tons per annum.
Consequently, the share of coal in Pakistan's import bill for the year ended June 2021 shot to 24% from over 2% in previous years, according to data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. Currently, only the power plant at Thar Coal Block II is running on indigenous coal.
A spike in coal power generation is in line with global trends, where countries including China, the U.S. and India have turned to coal to meet heightened demand following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
Authorities contend that the expansion of Thar Coal Block II will reduce the price of indigenous coal from $60 to $27 per ton -- making it the country's cheapest power source and leading to annual savings of $420 million. Pakistan is currently importing coal at around $200 per ton.
"We are compelled to use this cheap source of energy because we cannot keep using dollars to run power plants running on expensive furnace oil and RLNG (re-gasified liquefied natural gas)," Sindh Provincial Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh told Nikkei Asia. "We would like to mix 20% Thar coal [in power plants running] with imported coal. Then we will move towards converting coal to liquid and coal to gas."
The cost of operating thermal plants has become punishing due to expensive fuel and the cost of diverting scarce freshwater, which leads to underutilization of the plants, said Omar Cheema, director of London-based renewable energy consultancy Vivantive.
Chinese Consul General in Karachi Li Bijian, while speaking as the chief guest at a Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony here, he said for achieving sustained development goals (SDGs) China had made huge progress in green energy as this was future of the world.
China had largest renewable energy resources and cutting-edge equipment and machinery. Pakistan was also making every possible effort for conversion to green energy. It had big potential of renewable energy with Sindh’s better position in solar.
The memorandum of understanding was signed between Chinese Solar Energy Zonergy Company Limited-Pakistan and Altamash General Hospital, Karachi to install 351 KV solar energy plants to feed Altamash’s three health facilities in the city; with expected completion period of three months.
AGH’s Director Dr. Emad Altamash and CEO of Zonergy Company Limited (Pakistan) Xu Hong Chang signed the agreement, which was witnessed by Chairman of Altamash Group, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Altamash, Chairperson of AGH, Dr. Shahina Altamash and Chinese Consul General in Karachi, Li Bijian.
Chinese Consul General said, “I am very impressed by the quality and quantum of medical equipment at Altamash General Hospital.”
He acknowledged Altamash’s health services to the humanity, especially to low income group people. Today, he said, Altamash Group had taken a step forward for conversion to renewable energy.
Being the fastest and tested friends, and big partners in various social and economic sectors, under CPEC China and Pakistan were also increasing their cooperation and partnership in energy sector especially in renewables, which was the only future solution.
For last couple of decades, the two countries had been working together in energy sector i.e. solar, wind and coal power generation.
“My government is committed for renewables,” he reaffirmed.
He described Zonergy as one of leading solar energy companies of China and appreciated the company’s contribution in promoting green energy. During a media chat there, Chinese diplomat congratulated Pakistanis on celebrating their “Pakistan Resolution Day “ and successfully holding great event of two-day OIC Foreign Ministers’ Conference in Islamabad.—APP
Besides, the solar power giant a 100MW contract with its reliable partner Energy for You, furthering its commitment to renewable energy and fueling the national transition to a low carbon economy.
Pakistan is a perfect place to develop solar power due to its high levels of solar irradiation, and the government also enacts Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan 2021-2030 to facilitate the renewable energy transition. Up to now, 60 percent of Pakistan’s electricity comes from expensive imported fossil fuels and coal. Expanding renewable energy can help Pakistan save about US$ 5 billion in the next two decades. Beyond that, the development of the PV industry has excellent natural conditions in Pakistan, for instance, solar irradiance in Pakistan is 5.3 kWh/m2/day, which means inexhaustible resource for PV power generation. “To help meet Pakistan's targets of clean and green energy, Sungrow expands its cooperation capacity with local distributors to better empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as the emerging residential users. The upcoming 100MW sales contract helps provide more clean power for local users in Pakistan,” said Howard Fu, Country Director of Sungrow Pakistan, in an interview with Gwadar Pro.
Since entering the Pakistan market in 2015, Sungrow has made great contributions to the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. It provided inverters for the Zonergy 900MW Solar Power Project, as well as Pakistan's largest cement plant and first plant energy storage system. In 2020, Sungrow won the bid for the photovoltaic construction project of the Presidential Palace of Pakistan to install PV products for the presidential office. At present, it has established a good cooperative relationship with the Pakistani government and many local power enterprises. Sungrow will spare no effort to contribute to CPEC.
An element of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the dam is being built by a joint venture between China Power and the Frontier Works Organisation, an engineering arm of Pakistan’s army.
When work began in 2020, it was expected to finish in 2028. Sharif now wants this to happen in 2026.
He made the call during a speech delivered to the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) at the site of the project on Sunday, newspaper Dawn reports.
He said the electricity and irrigation produced by the dam would help to make Pakistan “prosperous and progressive”.
Claiming to understand the difficult terrain of the area and Pakistan’s difficulties in raising funds for construction, he added: “I am sure that all of you are going to work as a team and make efforts for the biggest energy project and complete it as early as possible.”
He also urged international investors to come forward and invest in the project.
The project is to build a roller-compacted gravity dam with a barrier some 272m high, making it the tallest of its type in the world.
The reservoir will contain 10 cubic kilometres of River Indus water, and its two powerhouses are expected to generate 4.5GW of electricity, equivalent to 12% of Pakistan’s total installed capacity.
The dam is being built in mountainous terrain between Kohistan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Diamer district in Gilgit Baltistan.
According to Dawn, engineers who have completed hydropower projects in the region suggested that it was more likely that the project would take longer than nine years to complete, rather than fewer.
However, the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry welcomed the expedited schedule.
Its president Mian Nauman Kabir said on Monday that the project would serve as a “lifeline” for the country by improving its energy mix, cutting its huge oil import bill and bringing down the cost of doing business.
Power sector experts have emphasised upon Pakistan to push harder for utilisation of lignite - an economical alternative to imported furnace oil and RLNG (re-gasified liquefied natural gas) - as it is crucial for the country’s ambition to achieve higher economic growth through industrialisation.
Besides industrialisation, provision of electricity to domestic consumers by using local coal reserves could serve the purpose of generating cheap electricity and curbing the ever increasing circular debt in the power sector, they added. They were of the view that the incumbent coalition government, led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, inherited fiscally unsustainable circular debt of nearly Rs2.5 trillion and lofty subsidies on energy prices, as well as re-surging blackouts despite surplus generation capacity. Electricity at current price is not affordable for businesses and residential consumers.
According to the government, the electricity generation cost rose by over 66% in March compared to a year ago because of the surging global energy prices.
The generation cost has surged 66.2% to Rs9.22 kWh in March this year from Rs5.55 kWh a year ago owing to spike in imported fossil fuel prices.
“Pakistan should now focus on local coal reserves for power generation as an alternate to imported fuel and coal given that its cost is much cheaper than the imported coal,” emphasised Sino-Sindh Resources Deputy CEO Chaudhary Abdul Qayyum.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Qayyum said that the local coal prices were not sensitive to international price fluctuations.
“Local coal at Thar is available for as low as $40 per ton and with rise in mine scaling, its prices will fall further to $30 a ton,” he pointed out.
“The best thing is that the government has to pay the price in local currency.”
Currently, around 16 million tons of coal is being imported by Pakistan to operate four power plants, Qayyum said adding that if these plants had been running on local coal, massive amounts of foreign exchange could have been saved by the country besides generation of cheap electricity.
He underlined that the recent commodity cycle had witnessed imported coal prices going up to $420-470 a ton from $100-120 a ton, making imported coal even more expensive than residual fuel oil (RFO) for power production.
Natural gas shortage and China’s energy crisis have driven global coal plant production capacity to surge last year, undercutting global net zero efforts.
The global capacity of coal power plants rose by nearly 1% in 2021 as the world recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic and increased attention on energy security, according to a report by a US environmental group Global Energy Monitor (GEM).
The research found that global coal plant capacity grew 18.2 gigawatts to about 2,100 GW or about 0.87% last year.
“It’s up by a small number,” said Flora Champenois, a GEM research analyst. “But it comes at a time when the world needs a dramatic fall in capacity, not any rise.”
The small spike can be attributed to a number of new coal plants that opened in China, which just about offset all the coal plant closures around the world in a global effort to cut down greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.
China, the world’s top emitter, has pledged to carbon peak by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. But the country has recently turned back to coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, due to its domestic energy crisis. To ensure power and heating supply for its residents, China has been increasing coal production capacity and built more than triple the amount of new coal power capacity as the rest of the world combined.
At the same time, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put the issue of energy security at the centre of the global stage, where countries including Germany have been reconsidering turning to coal again – instead of relying on nuclear power like the UK – to compensate for Russia’s natural gas.
Global demand for coal has been on the rise. In 2021, the world generated more electricity from coal than ever before, increasing 9% from the previous year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Total coal consumption, which covers electricity generation and industrial uses, is also expected to grow by another 2% in 2022. The IEA projects the high levels will likely last through to at least 2024, which is at least 3 billion tons higher than a scenario reaching net zero by 2050.
The latest IPCC climate report warns that global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 and be to halved by the end of the decade for a chance to limit global warming to 1.5C.
Despite rising inflation, coal will also likely remain to be one of the relatively cheapest fuels available, according to Bloomberg. However, there has been some positive trends. The report highlighted how capacity of global coal plants being built in 2021 decreased by 13%, dropping from 525 GW in 2020 to 457 GW.
India has been experiencing relentless heat waves for the second month in a row. This has now begun to wilt the country’s agriculture sector, especially wheat production.
A low yield, coupled with rising food inflation, would force the government to prioritise domestic consumption over exports, potentially tripping up prime minister Narendra Modi’s recent offer to help feed the world.
India’s giant heat wave is having ripple effects for the world’s food supply.
By Robinson Meyer
For the past few days, a heat wave of mind-boggling scale and intensity has gripped South Asia. More than 1 billion people in India and Pakistan have endured daytime highs of 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Delhi, the world’s second-largest city, has suffered through back-to-back days of 110-degree Fahrenheit heat. And Nawabshah, Pakistan—a city of nearly 230,000 people in the country’s desert south—came within half a degree of 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), the temperature at which the human body starts to cook.
The heat wave has a horrific human cost. Dozens of people have died of heatstroke, according to reports from NPR. It will have a climate cost. Although only the richest Indians own air conditioners, electricity demand is so high that the country is planning to import additional coal to keep its power grid alive.
The heat wave will also have an economic cost—one that will ripple beyond the subcontinent. As I’ve written about before, the world is suffering through a shortage of crucial commodities, including keystone cereal crops such as wheat. When Russia invaded Ukraine, it scrambled an already strained global wheat market—Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter; Ukraine, the world’s sixth largest—and sent prices soaring. India, which has enjoyed five straight years of record wheat crops, jumped in and offered to export more than usual.
The heat wave has, for now, thrown those plans into doubt. Some Indian farmers have estimated that 10 to 15 percent of their crop has died, according to Monika Tothova, an economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. But it’s too early to know exactly how the heat wave will shape the crop.
Food shortages and rising grain prices can bend the trajectory of history. Some commentators assert they played an outsize role in the Arab Spring revolutions a decade ago. (Other experts disagree.) I have had a hard time keeping track of the many story lines involved in the current crunch, so earlier this week, I called Tothova to chat about why food prices are so high, how much climate change is to blame, and what might happen next. Here are a few takeaways from our conversation:
1. India will still probably have excess wheat. The only question is how much.
India’s biggest annual wheat crop is the rabi, which is planted from October to December and harvested in the early spring, Tothova told me. In each of the past five years, India has achieved record-breaking wheat production during its rabi season. It was on track for another bumper year when the heat wave struck.
The country got a little lucky on timing. In southern and central India, the rabi has already been harvested or is being gathered now. But big questions remain about the health of wheat in northern India, the country’s most productive region, where the crop remains largely unharvested and has therefore been baking in the searing heat. “The heat itself will not hurt the grain,” Tothova said. What agronomists worry about instead, she said, is a phenomenon called “terminal heat stress,” where extreme heat overtaxes the plant and prevents it from forming any grain at all.
If much of northern India’s wheat had yet to form its grain before the heat wave began, the effects could be severe. Northern India also drives most of the variation in India’s wheat crop: When the rabi has a bumper year, it’s because northern India boomed. Climate change actually contributed to that recent bump in a small but positive way. There’s more irrigation in northern fields now than there used to be, Tothova said, because melting glaciers in the Himalayas have increased river flow into the country. (Of course, now farmers are feeling the other side of that coin.)
Pakistan’s first Hydel power generation project – Karot Hydropower – under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) connected unit one to the national grid on 30 April, kick-starting the operations at full capacity, reported Developing Pakistan, a Pakistan based digital media platform. By connecting unit one of the Karot Hydropower, the project pumps 180 MW of electricity into the national grid. Karot Hydropower Project is a 720 MW constructed on river Jhelum, Pakistan, in collaboration with one of the largest state-owned Chinese power companies, the China Three Gorges Corporation, more commonly known as the CTG. The rest of the three units will be connected to the national grid in the upcoming months.
The project’s financial close was achieved in March 2017, and construction work began the same year. The mechanical, electrical, and other technical works of the project were completed around February 2022, and internal testing began in the same month. Work pertaining to transmitting power to the national grid was mostly completed by January however was not completed till April 30. The project is the first of three hydropower projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor, and the estimated cost to get the plant operational stands at around $1.42 billion. According to the Managing Director of the Private Power and Infrastructure Board, the other two include “the 870MW Sukhi Kenari HPP and 1,124MW Kohala HPP.” Work on Sukhi Kerani is underway, whereas the construction of the Kohala Hydropower Project is yet to be initiated. The Kohala HPP is also being constructed on the Jhelum river, and a tripartite agreement was signed for its construction in June 2020; however, due to tax issues, the work on the construction site of the said river has still not begun.
It is pertinent to mention that according to the National Electric Power Regulator Authority state industry report 2021, Hydel sources of electricity generation account for 27.02 percent of the country’s electricity, significantly more than any other source except for thermal.
Separately, to address the energy demands of the country, Pakistani authorities have also engaged the World Bank to facilitate the set up of a 300 MW floating solar project at the Tarbela – Ghazi Barotha complex. The project’s projected cost is proposed to be around $346.5 million. Under the project, a 150 MW floating solar subproject will be deployed in the Ghazi Barrage headpond and another floating project of similar capacity at the Forebay of the existing Ghazi Barotha Hydropower plant. The project would greatly enhance the electricity supply and help meet the rising demand for electricity in a climate-smart manner.
This was caused by a recent heatwave, which released huge amounts of water into the stream and surrounding areas, local media reported.
Experts are saying the water volume at the Shisper glacier lake had increased by 40 per cent over the past 20 days due to unusually high and abrupt temperature rises in the north of the country.
Pakistan recorded its hottest April in decades with Jacobabad touching 49C.
They also added that rapidly melting glaciers have created more than 3,000 glacial lakes in the northern areas and 33 could burst soon. This would send torrents of water coursing through streams, which is very dangerous.
In Hassanabad, local officials helped those affected and ensured that people were not stranded due to the flooding.
“A compact bridge would be temporarily installed to restore traffic,” while construction of a permanent bridge would take about seven to eight months, National Highway Authority chair Muhammad Khurram Agha said, according to Gulf News.
Traffic was diverted to an alternate route and heavy transport vehicles were barred.
There has been no loss of life, officials said.
The extreme heat experienced by India and Pakistan in March and April was the most intense, widespread and persistent in the region’s recorded history. A study released Monday finds that human-caused climate change had made this historic event at least 30 times as likely. It determined that climate change elevated temperatures of the heat wave by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (one degree Celsius) compared to pre-industrial times.
“What was particularly exceptional and particularly unusual was how early it started,” Friederike Otto, co-author of the study, said in a news conference on Monday.
India experienced its highest March temperatures in 122 years, and Pakistan and northwestern and central India endured their hottest April. Numerous all-time and monthly temperature records were broken across both countries. Over the two months, extreme heat affected nearly 70 percent of India and 30 percent of Pakistan.
This heat event would have been “highly, highly unlikely” in a world without climate change, said Arpita Mondal, a co-author and professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.
The heat took an enormous toll on people throughout the region. Workers were no longer able to work full days outside, putting a strain on their livelihoods and the economy. Key farming areas in India are expected to see a 10 to 35 percent decrease in crop yields due to the heat wave, driving up local market prices and reducing global wheat supplies at a time when supplies are already under stress because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds of forest fires also burned across India. In Pakistan, snowmelt caused a glacial lake to flood and wipe out a key bridge.
Across the two countries, at least 90 deaths have been tied to the heat.
The analysis was conducted by the group World Weather Attribution, which uses computer modeling to investigate the links between ongoing weather events and climate change. The team ran simulations using 20 different models with and without the effects of human-induced climate change to determine the effect of rising temperatures on the magnitude of the heat. The results, which are not yet peer-reviewed, come from well-established methodologies that have been used in past analyses, including one conducted on the 2021 Pacific Northwest heat wave.
“We have studied many heat waves, and in all cases but one climate change was clearly assessed as the main driver of the change in the likelihood,” said Robert Vautard, director of the Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute in France and co-author of several studies with World Weather Attribution.
Northern India and Pakistan face another round of heat later this week. After some relatively cool weather the next several days, temperatures are forecast to rise several degrees above average Friday into the weekend.
#Pakistan can get up to 20% of total power capacity from variable renewable energy simply by focusing on existing substations, mainly resulting in a series of small solar projects - according to
Rooftop solar can be delivered quickly and at a relatively low cost, while avoiding the need for additional transmission & distribution infrastructure.
Perhaps there can be a silver lining from the current load shedding--or planned power cuts due to insufficient supply--that is affecting the electricity sector in Pakistan: the immediate implementation of competitive bidding for new solar and wind capacity. For the last few years, the dominant narrative around the electricity sector has been one of “surplus capacity”, which has been used to justify postponing the procurement of new solar and wind. One of the concerns is that because the power sector must pay legacy fossil fuel generators regardless of whether they generate power (this is called “capacity payments”, for the capacity they provide to the system), adding additional capacity will further harm the financial viability of the sector. However, the current crisis illustrates the folly of such short-term thinking.
As highlighted in a report just published by the World Bank – “Variable Renewable Energy Competitive Bidding Study” – competitive bidding, whereby the government contracts for new power supplies through a reverse auction process based on the tariffs offered by different private sector developers, must start in 2022 to meet the requirements of the government’s Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan 2021-2030. This envisages 2 Gigawatts of additional solar and wind capacity coming online from 2024 onwards, with further additions in subsequent years. Previous analysis published by the World Bank suggests that the IGCEP 2021-2030 targets are not ambitious enough, with scope for a more aggressive expansion of variable renewable energy. Considering the heavy reliance on expensive fossil fuels – which have dramatically increased in cost over the last few months – Pakistan would be saving money right now if it had been more ambitious in the past, even allowing for capacity payments.
Pakistan can get up to 20% of total power capacity from variable renewable energy simply by focusing on existing substations.
Implementation of competitive bidding will need to be taken forward by both the federal government (under the auspices of the Alternative Energy Development Board) and the provincial governments through a coordinated process. In addition to launching a competitive bidding process for the existing “Category 3” projects (those for which Letters of Intent have been issued under the previous policy regime), there is huge potential for quick wins by identifying substations that have surplus integration capacity and then designing a competitive bidding process involving a large number of such sites. As noted by the World Bank in our last study on this topic, the country can get up to 20% of total power capacity from variable renewable energy simply by focusing on existing substations, mainly resulting in a series of relatively small solar projects spread across all provinces.
But India has installed less than 100 gigawatts of solar and wind power so far, and most Indian analysts say the 175 gigawatt goal is beyond reach this year.
Had India stuck to its pledge on renewables, it would not have faced a power shortage this spring, according to estimates from the Climate Risk Horizons consultancy in New Delhi. Even on April 29, when Delhi reached 110 degrees — the second-highest temperature for that month in 70 years — and peak electricity demand hit a record high, India could have met the need had it been on track to install 160 gigawatts of solar and wind power by the end of the year, said Ashish Fernandes, the consultancy’s chief executive.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has long touted his vision of turning India into a leader in renewable energy. Recent weeks have revealed a more complicated reality.
In the past month, as India broiled under a historic heat wave and consumed a record amount of electricity for cooling, the Coal Ministry announced it would reopen old mines and increase output by 100 million tons. As cities went into rolling blackouts because of electricity shortages, the Power Ministry ordered plants that burn imported coal to run at full capacity.
The environment ministry has given coal mines permission to boost production by up to 50 percent without seeking new permits, according to a May 7 memo. The memo attributed the relaxed environmental regulations to “huge pressure on domestic coal supply in the country” and said “all efforts are being made to meet the demand of coal.”
The developments highlight the persistent, even growing, reliance on coal in the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases — and one of the foremost victims of climate change.
Although analysts acknowledge that India faces a genuine dilemma in how to meet its soaring energy demands, many say the government is sending mixed policy signals by promoting coal mining and power generation as it trumpets its green ambitions on the international stage. In the run-up to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, Modi pledged to install 175 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2022. He later raised that target to 450 gigawatts by 2030.
Pakistan is facing an acute water shortage and climate change is damaging crops. The public health system, meanwhile, is in a disarray. To deal with these challenges, the country's authorities need long-term planning.
Pakistan is facing an acute water shortage, with experts saying the country would run out of water by 2040 if the authorities don't take long-term measures to deal with the problem.
The recent heat wave has damaged crops and caused food shortages in the country. It comes at a time when the Islamic nation has yet to fully recover from the COVID pandemic and its devastating toll on the public health sector and economy.
Experts say that degradation of natural resources, soil erosion, deforestation, unbridled and unplanned urbanization and contamination of ground water are some of the many serious issues that need immediate attention from the government.
Tariq Banuri, a leading environmental expert, believes that the most crucial challenges for Pakistan include the impacts of climate change — floods, heat waves, drought, crop losses and diseases — whose frequency has increased rapidly over the past couple of decades.
"Air pollution has also emerged as a big problem in large parts of the country, affecting health as well as transport and mobility, while water pollution is killing thousands of people every year. Around 80% of Pakistan's population do not have access to clean drinking water," he told DW.
Researchers predict that Pakistan is on its way to becoming the most water-stressed country in the region by the year 2040.
According to a 2018 report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan ranked third in the world among countries facing acute water shortage. Reports by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) also warn the authorities that the South Asian country will reach absolute water scarcity by 2025.
In 2016, PCRWR reported that Pakistan touched the "water stress line" in 1990 and crossed the "water scarcity line" in 2005. If this situation persists, Pakistan is likely to face an acute water shortage or a drought-like situation in the near future, according to PCRWR, which is affiliated with the nation's Ministry of Science and Technology.
Pakistan has the world's fourth-highest rate of water use. Its water intensity rate — the amount of water, in cubic meters, used per unit of GDP — is the world's highest.
Environment specialist Rahat Jabeen writes in a World Bank blog that every year Pakistan loses almost 27,000 hectares of natural forest area, explaining that almost three-quarters of the country's population use forest resources for a lack of alternative energy resources.
Pakistan is among the top ten countries in the world that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, according to Mome Saleem, an environmental activist.
"The agriculture land is being used for housing projects, which has resulted in the loss of trees and extreme heat waves. No attention is being paid to depleting water, which is already scarce," she added.
"Pakistan must have at least 25% of the forest cover, but we are also not doing well on this front. The government is not preventing the cutting down of trees, which is happening on a massive scale. A dilapidated public transport system and low-quality fuel cause a significant rise in carbon, but unfortunately the government is not taking measures to mitigate the hazard," she added.
All this is taking a huge toll on the economy. According to a report by Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission, the annual monetary cost of environmental degradation alone is equivalent to around 4.3% of GDP.
Pakistan is facing an acute water shortage and climate change is damaging crops. The public health system, meanwhile, is in a disarray. To deal with these challenges, the country's authorities need long-term planning.
All this is taking a huge toll on the economy. According to a report by Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission, the annual monetary cost of environmental degradation alone is equivalent to around 4.3% of GDP.
Hasan Abbas, an Islamabad-based expert, criticizes the authorities for not paying proper attention to environmental problems.
Saleem says that despite the fact that Pakistan ranks 142 on the environment performance indicator, the government has not taken concrete actions to deal with the challenges.
Saleem believes the reason behind the negligence to such existential crises is its fixation on economic growth.
Abbas is of the opinion that Pakistan needs a green economic model. "Scrap all big hydro-power and coal-power projects. We need to switch to wind and solar power, which are viable for countries like Pakistan," he suggested.
Kishwar Zehra, a government official, says it is easier said than done. "Pakistan is already under huge debts. It cannot overcome these challenges without assistance from the international community. And this assistance should not be in the form of loans; we should be given [financial] aid to deal with them," she said.
New climate change minister Sherry Rehman has given her assurance that Pakistan will remain serious about conservation.
Wajahat Shah, 32, is a labourer at a government-run tree plantation, spread over 3,000 hectares of army land in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. “Ten days after the government announced the lockdown due to coronavirus, I had to close my grocery shop,” Shah told The Third Pole.
The plantation is part of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, the flagship initiative of the recently ousted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. The project has been a lifesaver for up to 85,000 residents like Shah, Mohammad Usman Khan, a forest officer, said.
Before Covid-19, Shah earned as much as 25,000 Pakistani rupees (USD 129) a month from his shop. Now, his work at the plantation gives him PKR 15,000 (USD 77), and he also receives a small monthly rent from his shop, which is being run by someone else.
“I know this is much less, but our family of three has fewer needs [now]; I also prefer working outdoors,” he said, adding that this way he gets time to study for his bachelor’s degree.
However, forest officer Khan admitted that turning 3,000 hectares of barren army land into an oasis, growing olive, ziziphus lotus, rosewood, acacia trees and more, is too big a task for the 50 labourers the plantation employs. The government’s hands, he explained, were tied due to lack of funds.
The area – 32 kilometres from Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – has plenty of water, with groundwater drawn from solar-powered tubewells, but not enough manpower. “We should have at least eight labourers for every 40 hectares,” said Khan, adding that it may not be possible to green the area without more staff.
A ‘booster dose’ for conservation
Pakistan’s Green Stimulus, a USD 120 million loan from the World Bank, was conceived as a “booster dose” for this and similar nature-based projects, said former minister for climate change, Malik Amin Aslam, using a Covid-19 analogy.
The money, originally earmarked for a project by the Pakistan Meteorological Department, was redirected to nature restoration in response to hardship created by Covid-19, Aslam said.
Speaking to The Third Pole on 29 April following Imran Khan’s removal as prime minister, he said he feared the package may face delays.
These “nature-positive funds” Aslam said, referring to the Green Stimulus package, were “literally within arm’s reach”, with the first tranche to be released by 15 April. “The first phase was ready for rollout – when we ourselves got prematurely rolled out!” he rued.
Pakistan’s Green Stimulus fits within the scope of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030, a framework focused on reversing ecosystem loss to fight the climate crisis. It “was meant to protect nature and give green jobs to thousands of people including youth and women”, Aslam explained.
Now with Pakistan in political turmoil, Aslam feared that “all efforts to protect nature and give green jobs may well go down the drain”.
New minister wants to continue Pakistan’s green stimulus
Aslam’s concerns may be unfounded. Sherry Rehman, the new climate change minister, told The Third Pole that the grant will remain available to Pakistan. The World Bank, she explained, is supporting the country, not a particular administration under a certain party, so the agreement still stands.
The Third Pole contacted the World Bank about the status of the loan; a reply had not been received at the time of publication.
New climate change minister Sherry Rehman has given her assurance that Pakistan will remain serious about conservation.
According to the agreement, a body called the National Disaster & Risk Management Fund will receive the funds and distribute them to various departments. Eleven projects have already been vetted and approved by the bank.
“The MoCC [Ministry of Climate Change] would like to continue with [the Green Stimulus] initiative and adopt any course correction in future if necessary,” Rehman said.
Upon taking office, however, she was expecting the ministry to be more than “a single project implementation department” dedicated solely to planting trees.
“[The MoCC] is essentially a policy ministry, not a project implementation department,” she pointed out, detailing her vision of the climate change ministry, which includes policy design, monitoring provinces and engaging internationally with the global community to press Pakistan’s case as a low net polluter.
But above all, Rehman said, “[the ministry] needs Pakistan to engage in a public conversation on conservation and climate goals through state and community action”.
She noted the absence of a climate communication cell at the ministry, as well as the fact that the federal secretary’s post remains vacant. And when it comes to gender, she added, “institutional frameworks in Pakistan are inadvertently designed to preserve inequity”.
The Climate Council, a forum where representatives for the provinces meet to discuss and cooperate on frameworks for climate action, has been dormant with not a single meeting held in the past four years, she added. “All this needs to change,” she said.
Acknowledging that Rehman would have a “good idea” of the country’s needs and priorities on the climate front, Aslam cautioned that “implementation and focus” require political ownership and the understanding and backing needed at the highest level “may be missing in this administration”.
Domestic reform is the new priority
Aslam said adopting the “two-pronged approach of using clean energy transition and nature-based solutions” is essential. Reversing targets set by the previous government, he warned, will not only have ecological but economic and social consequences that Pakistan can ill afford.
He said he hoped the present government “can comprehend this and take the logical way forward towards climate compatible development”.
However, Rehman commented that she worried that Pakistan has been put in a “commitment trap” where, at the international level, “it has promised far more than it can even measure, let alone deliver”.
“While commitments to lower emissions were made abroad, no infrastructure or institutional reform was attempted at home for a genuine energy transition,” she pointed out.
And despite the “existential” nature of the crisis, no awareness was built either at a policymaking or a community level. “No work or public messaging on water deficits were made,” said Rehman, even though Pakistan will be water-scarce by 2025, according to the UN. “It seems that climate solutions have been reduced to tree plantation only.”
This year, India is ranked lowest, at 180.
The EPI, released on June 6, was put together by a group of scientists from institutes including the universities of Yale and Columbia. It analyses 40 performance indicators, such as particulate matter levels and projected greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), across 11 categories (including air quality and climate change mitigation).
The scientists then use this to rank the 180 countries on their “progress toward improving environmental health, protecting ecosystem vitality and mitigating climate change”. According to the EPI report, its methodology has been refined over two decades and it builds on the most recent data.
Analysis of the EPI data demonstrates that financial resources, good governance, human development, and regulatory quality matter in elevating a country’s sustainability, it noted.
This year, India is ranked lowest, at 180, with an EPI score of just 18.9 (on a scale of 0 to 100).
“Based on the latest scientific insights and environmental data, India ranks at the bottom of all countries in the 2022 EPI, with low scores across a range of critical issues,” the report reads. “Deteriorating air quality and rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions pose especially urgent challenges.”
The EPI data also indicates that India is one of the four countries – apart from China, the United States and Russia – that will account for over 50% of residual global greenhouse gas emissions in 2050, if current trends hold. “A total of 24 countries will be responsible for nearly 80% of 2050 emissions unless decision-makers strengthen climate policies and emissions trajectories change,” the EPI report noted.
‘Based on surmises and unscientific methods’
In a press release on June 8, the Union environment ministry said it “does not accept” the Index’s analysis and conclusions for several reasons, including changes in methodology.
According to the Ministry, ‘Projected GHG Emissions levels in 2050’ is a new indicator that the EPI, 2022 uses. However, it takes into account only the average rate of change in emissions over the last decade, and does not incorporate aspects such as the extent of renewable energy capacity.
India’s data on forests and wetlands – which are crucial carbon sinks – has not been factored into the Index while computing the projected greenhouse gas emissions trajectory up to 2050. India’s historical data on emissions – which is low compared to developed countries, most of which rank high in the EPI 2022 – has also not been considered, said the Ministry.
Moreover, the weight of indicators in which the country was performing well have been reduced and reasons for the change in assignment of weights has not been explained in the report, the Ministry alleged.
“For example, new parameters have changed the weightage given to climate policy as an objective. Similarly, the ecosystem vitality policy objective’s weightage has [been] reduced from 60% to 42% in the total EPI,” the ministry claims, saying that these changes in methodology have contributed to India’s dismal rank compared to previous iterations.
“The Environmental Performance Index, 2022, released recently, has many indicators based on unfounded assumptions. Some of these indicators used for assessing performance are extrapolated and based on surmises and unscientific methods,” the Union environment ministry said in the release.
This year, India is ranked lowest, at 180.
According to the Ministry, the Index also uses “outdated” data. The Ministry had requested that the EPI refer to the India State of Forests Report (ISFR 2021) for the latest data on biodiversity variables, but this has not been done, the ministry said. Ironically, experts have raised questions about the methodology used in the ISFR 2021, which may show India to be more forested than it really is.
Collaborating with, learning from peers
The EPI, however, has always based rankings on existing country performance and not on historical emissions or climate policy intent, clarified lead author of the Index, Martin Wolf, principal investigator at the Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy, in an email to The Wire.
The goal of the EPI is to “inform current policy choices, not place blame on countries for contributing to climate change or destroying the environment,” he said. In fact, the best use of the EPI is to compare countries to their peers; for example, it is useful to compare India to other major developing countries, like China, he added.
“Although they are not perfectly analogous, these two countries have things to learn from each other. India may be able to borrow some policies China has enacted to improve air quality, while China can learn from India about many issues, like sustainable fisheries and wetland conservation. The hope is that with data-driven analyses like the EPI, countries will be able to collaborate with their peers to improve their country’s environmental performance,” Wolf said.
Similarly, with every iteration, the EPI adjusts the weights given to indicators to reflect a balanced scorecard, clarified Wolf. “We do not adjust weights to punish certain countries. Rather, we choose weights such that all issues are reflected in a country’s overall ranking.”
The EPI recognises the “shortcomings” of the new greenhouse gas emissions trajectories, and hopes to incorporate additional nuances in future iterations of the report, Wolf added. However, even with factoring in carbon sinks, China, India, the United States, and Russia are not on track to meet the climate targets outlined by the 2021 Glasgow Climate Pact.
“Efforts and plans to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is not a substitute for reducing emissions in the first place,” Wolf told The Wire.
“The EPI looks forward to collaborating with the Indian government and the Ministry as we work to improve our analyses, elevate India’s environmental performance, and put the world on track for a happier and healthier future,” he said.
In what’s left of Karachi’s original mangrove swamps, one of the museum exhibit’s designers is documenting, in forensic detail, the piecemeal destruction of a once pristine forest for his weekly social media dispatch. “There are days out here when you can’t hear a single bird because the chainsaws are so loud,” Tariq Qaiser murmurs into his iPhone with a David Attenborough cadence as he pans the camera over a clear-cut swath of stump-studded silt. Just a few weeks ago, he continues, “the tree canopy was overhead, and the light filtered through as if you were in a cathedral. Now …” He shakes his head mutely as he steers his small boat past a pile of cut branches destined for the city’s back-alley firewood markets and charcoal kilns.
Pakistan’s Indus River Delta is home to hundreds of thousands of acres of mangroves, and the country boasts one of the most successful mangrove reforestation projects in the world. But only a few remain in the economic capital of Karachi, where 16 million residents are corralled onto low-lying spits of land, many of which have been reclaimed from the sea. Qaiser, an architect of some renown, with thick gray hair, horn-rimmed glasses, and a late-middle-age paunch he attributes to COVID-enforced inactivity, has spent the past half decade fighting for the protection and expansion of a small patch of mangroves rooted at the tip of a tidal island directly facing some of Karachi’s most valuable land.
Developers envision landfilling Bundal Island, linking it to the mainland via a causeway, and turning it into prime real estate for an ever expanding city. Qaiser sees the island as the terrestrial incarnation of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, the patron Sufi saint of Karachi, who protects the city from storms, disease, and hunger. “I don’t want to fight with the developers,” Qaiser says. “But I do want them to think about the future of this city.” In a congested metropolis already plagued by the urban heat-island effect, in which endless expanses of concrete buildings and paved roads amplify the already sweltering temperatures by several degrees, trees are a threatened resource. Mangroves, says Qaiser, “are our air-conditioning, our oxygen supply. If you just increase the mangrove cover, Karachi’s next 30 years will be much better than if you build over them.”
The world will be better as well. By sequestering carbon, mangroves help slow climate change. They also protect locals against some of its effects, like rising sea levels and increasingly severe storms. Qaiser’s quest to save Karachi’s last intact mangrove forest comes against the backdrop of a growing global movement to preserve those that remain and replace what has been lost. In this battle, his weapon of choice is a series of short, stunning nature videos filmed in and around Karachi’s mangroves. He disseminates them weekly via Whats-App to some 2,000 contacts, and urges his followers to share widely. And they do. At 197 and counting, his 90-second dispatches (the maximum allowed by WhatsApp) have raised awareness among the urban elite, and have in some instances spurred officials to act, sending in security to stop illegal woodcutters. But in a city where land is at a premium, development is the bigger threat. Keeping Bundal Island intact means educating a new generation of Karachiites about the value of not just the mangroves but the entire surrounding ecosystem. That was the impetus behind the museum’s mangrove exhibit, says Qaiser. The problem is that by the time the schoolkids are in a position to make any decisions, it might be too late—not for Pakistan’s mangroves, which are flourishing, but for Karachi’s, which are not.
Solar panels to generate 500MW of electricity after two years
"Work on the feasibility report of the project is in full swing and it is hoped that the project will start generating electricity in two years time after going through the approval stages," said Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh, adding that Go Company, which was working on the project, was expected to invest US$400 million in the project.
The energy minister’s statement came during his talk with officials from power companies.
He said that this was a unique floating solar power plant project for Pakistan which would not only provide 500 MW of environmentally friendly electricity but would also create employment opportunities in the province.
"Keenjhar Lake will promote tourism and help in controlling load shedding," he added.
Imtiaz Shaikh said that the 500 MW eco-friendly power project was another milestone of the achievements of the Sindh government.
In recent months, Pakistan has seen efforts to increase the instalment and use of solar panels. The government worked towards a comprehensive solar energy package comprising tax waivers and concessionary loans for consumers in a bid to overcome the prolonged power outages that have stalled life in the country.
The solar package would include a short-term plan for shifting government offices to solar energy. It involves the preparation of a plan for helping small consumers to switch over to solar energy with the help of subsidies or concessionary loans.
The government is also planning to waive the general sales tax on all the components used in generating solar energy.
The energy task force, chaired by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, reviewed the solar power plan in a recent meeting. The prime minister constituted the task force on solar energy initiatives with a vision to promote sustainable and green energy.
Pakistan's mangrove cover has seen rapid expansion along the Arabian Sea over the past two decades due to coordinated efforts by government agencies and environmental organizations.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the eve of the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, which is celebrated on July 26 every year, Tahir Rasheed, a regional director of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Pakistan, said that in Southeast Asia, Pakistan is the only country where mangrove cover has increased dramatically over the last two decades.
Between 1999-2021, the vulnerable mangrove area along Pakistan’s 1,050-kilometer (652-mile) coastline has increased to over 200,000 hectares (over 494,000 acres) from 46,000 hectares (over a 113,000 acres).
A colossal chunk of mangrove forest falls in southern Sindh province, whereas southwestern Balochistan province, which boasts a 700-kilometer (435-mile) coastline, shares a meager portion of nearly 4,000 hectares.
“We witnessed a decline of mangrove forest from 600,000 hectares along the Sindh coastline in the early 20th century to merely 46,000 hectares in the mid-1980s. However, the cover area of mangroves has increased to over 200,000 hectares along the Sindh and Balochistan coastline over the past two decades,” Rasheed said.
Due to the “well-coordinated” plantation and rehabilitation campaigns by the Sindh Forest Department the federal government, WWF-Pakistan, and civil society organizations, the country’s mangrove cover is increasing at a “good pace,” he went on to say.
A host of projects by WWF-Pakistan alone have contributed 16,000 hectares to the country’s overall mangrove cover, apart from the rehabilitation of 32,000 hectares, he added.
Danger still lurking
Mangroves, a group of trees and shrubs that grow in the intertidal regions of tropical and subtropical coastlines, are significantly important for ecosystems and are considered the first line of defense against cyclones, strong surges, tsunamis, and other natural calamities.
The Sindh coast, particularly the port city of Karachi, has been reeling from a relentless process of morphological changes mainly due to anthropogenic activities including industrial pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, rapid industrialization, urbanization, and land degradation in addition to natural processes.
Industrial and economic infrastructure development, land-grabbing and inhabitation along the coast, and the construction of huts at beaches have adversely impacted the marine ecosystems and mangroves of the adjoining creeks, say environmentalists.
Making matters worse, some natural phenomena such as high energy waves, tidal currents, and strong winds during monsoons have also influenced changes along the coast.
Acknowledging a “rapid” increase in mangrove cover in the country, Hammad Gilani, a Lahore-based environmentalist, nonetheless observed that the danger is still lurking.
“Mangroves along Pakistan’s coastal belt and Indus Delta are still facing two key threats in the form of sea intrusion and degradation,” Gilani, a researcher at the International Water Management Institute in Lahore, told Anadolu Agency.
“Deforestation (of mangroves) is not a big problem. But degradation, which includes some justifiable livestock needs, is really an issue,” he argued.
He noted that rising sea levels have long been wreaking havoc on mangroves, especially in the Indus Delta, from where the Indus River flows into the Arabian Sea.
Also, mangroves require a systematic flow of fresh water, which unfortunately does not persist at the moment, he said.
Also, mangroves require a systematic flow of fresh water, which unfortunately does not persist at the moment, he said.
Gilani noted that the South Asian country has seen a rapid augmentation in mangrove cover after the 2010 massive floods, which, although inundating a fifth of Pakistan, made up for a freshwater shortage.
Sharing a similar view, Rasheed said: "To keep the momentum going, we have to create awareness among the masses, and especially the policymakers, about the environmental significance of the mangroves and reinforce how important they are as the threat is not over yet."
Bulwark against sea battering
Thick mangroves have long protected Karachi and its coastal communities from erosion caused by the Arabian Sea's unending waves, observed Shabina Faraz, a Karachi-based expert, who often writes on the environment.
However, she added, the fragile ecosystem faces numerous threats, from coastal development, urbanization, and encroachment to the commercial exploitation of mangroves, reduction of freshwater flows and sedimentation, erosion of coastal areas, chemical dumping, and raw sewage.
"Karachi city alone contributes 500 million gallons of untreated water to the sea. Apart from that, polluted water from 6,000 industries also contributes high-impact pollutants to the Arabian sea that negatively affect the mangrove ecosystem and marine fauna," she maintained, speaking to Anadolu Agency.
Gilani, the Lahore-based expert, said that despite an increasing mangrove cover, satellite imagery has punctuated the need for national-scale carbon sequestration reporting for a performance-based payment mechanism flowing from developed countries to developing ones.
Seconding his view, Faraz said carbon sequestration reporting could add to the national economy "significantly."
Forests lose ground around Karachi
Tariq Alexander Qaiser, a Karachi-based environmentalist, said that although the mangrove cover on the wider delta was increasing, mature forests around Karachi have been pushed back.
Urban expansion into the estuaries and intertidal lands where the mangroves are found has had a negative environmental impact, he observed.
He said serious urban flooding had resulted from construction on flood plains, whereas water outflow into the sea had also been constricted, he told Anadolu Agency.
The dying of the plants' roots holding together the mud and sand on the islands and coast, Qaiser said, has allowed sands to shift and islands to erode.
This results in greater dredging needs, and increases costs of operating ports, he maintained.
"The removal of mangrove cover from the coastline also leaves the city vulnerable to sea surges and tsunamis. This has a serious impact on human life and safety."
According to Qaiser, the deltas' mangrove cover is expanding, but the situation is "very different" on the islands and shores of the cities, especially Karachi.
He explained that these "most mature and tallest of the forests" were being cut down due to poverty and the need for fuel.
The only way to retain this very necessary forest cover is to create and enforce a nature reserve on Karachi's Islands, Qaiser argued, adding that the metropolis, home to 20 million people, needed this oxygen-producing wilderness to maintain some control over its air quality.
"We need to keep planting new mangrove forests, but equally important is the need to protect the forests that exist. Especially on the islands of Karachi."
Mulazim Hussain is proud of the trees he has planted.
Surrounded by neem saplings and vegetables sprouting up from scrubland in the Clifton district of Pakistan's largest city Karachi, the 61-year-old recalls a time a few years ago when the area was a giant, informal rubbish tip.
"Now there is greenery and happiness, children come in the evening to play, people come to walk," he said, speaking near a patch of trees amid a barren expanse bordered by the sea on one side and tower blocks and offices in the distance on the other.
"I have raised these plants like my children over the last four years," he added, taking a break from his labours amid a fierce summer heatwave.
Wearing a white and brown scarf around his head and a loose, cream-coloured shirt, Hussain collected dry grass from the ground and watered his cherished trees during a recent visit by Reuters reporters to the urban forest plantation project.
At the end of the day, he turned the hose on himself to cool off and clean up before heading home on his motorcycle.
The father of two is employed by an urban afforestation project in a government-owned park in Karachi's upmarket Clifton area that is run by Shahzad Qureshi, who has worked on similar projects in other Pakistani cities and overseas.
It is one of dozens of state-owned and private planting initiatives in Pakistan, where forest cover lags far behind average levels across South Asia. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, emissions of which contribute to warming global temperatures.
The aim in Clifton is to counterbalance rapid urbanisation in Karachi, a sprawling port city of some 17 million people where breakneck expansion of roads and buildings means there is less and less space for trees and parkland.
Qureshi wanted to provide shade for residents seeking escape from rising temperatures - a heatwave in 2015 killed more than 400 people in the city in three days, and temperatures in the surrounding Sindh region reached record highs this year.
The trees can also attract local wildlife, mitigate urban flooding and provide new sources of food.
"The bigger the tree cover of the city the more the cooling, with a difference of up to 10 (degrees) Celsius when you are surrounded by trees," he told Reuters, adding that the project only used native species.
"As you plant ... it attracts insects, and varieties of birds start coming. Presently mongoose are roaming around in the park, and four or five varieties of chameleon.
"You give them a home, you give them food and let it happen. Nature is so beautiful."
DOES PLANTING HELP?
Overall forest cover in Pakistan, home to more than 220 million people, is around 5.4%, according to Syed Kamran Hussain, manager for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province at the World Wide Fund for Nature's national branch.
That compares with 24% in neighbouring India and 14.5% in Bangladesh, and the previous government announced a mass forestation programme that envisaged planting 10 billion trees between 2019 and 2023.
"Pakistan is among the top 10 most vulnerable countries affected by global warming," Hussain said. "After oceans, trees are the second largest sink of carbon."
Some climate change experts question the impact of afforestation projects - the planting of trees where there were none before - in urban settings.
Some climate change experts question the impact of afforestation projects - the planting of trees where there were none before - in urban settings.
The choice of species is important, because it affects the amount saplings may need to be watered - a major factor in Pakistan where water is generally scarce.
And whether to plant trees at all is not a simple question: the benefits are not always clear and significant investment is needed to nurture saplings into fully grown trees.
"What is missing from urban forestry is a holistic approach to the environment," said Usman Ashraf, a doctoral researcher in development studies at the University of Helsinki. He was not commenting specifically on the Karachi project.
"It's about visual success, the numbers, small patches here and there," he said. "It won't even make a dent on any of the environmental harm in these cities."
Masood Lohar, who founded the Clifton Urban Forest that has planted trees on the beach front not far from Qureshi's project, said afforestation could help make Karachi more resilient against natural disasters and encourage wildlife to settle.
Experts say it can also provide relief from heatwaves, with the sea breeze getting hotter as it passes through concrete structures while roadways and rooftops absorb heat. Where to plant is a key question, with wealthier urban areas often better off in terms of tree cover.
In the absence of more trees, "we are turning the city into hell", Lohar said.
In the Sakhi Hassan Graveyard in the centre of the city, small saplings grow among uneven tombstones crammed close together, while larger trees offer shade from the midday sun.
Mohammad Jahangir, 35, is a caretaker there who waters the plants for a small cash donation from relatives who seeded them. Viewed from above, the graveyard is a sea of green that stands out against a low-rise neighbourhood.
"We don't feel the heat here in the graveyard, while the city sizzles," said Jahangir. "These trees are a blessing."
(Photo Editing Gabrielle Fonseca Johnson and Kezia Levitas; Additional Reporting Gloria Dickie in London; Writing Mike Collett-White; Text Editing Alison Williams; Layout Eve Watling)
A total of 8.8 million saplings would be planted in four districts of the division during current tree plantation campaign.
This was stated by Divisional Commissioner Dr Irshad Ahmad while inaugurating tree plantation campaign by planting a sapling in the lawn of his office here on Sunday. Additional Commissioner Coordination Fareed Ahmad, Conservator of Forests Niaz Muhammad, Divisional Officer of Forests Nisar Khan and ACR Ghazala Kanwal and others were also present.
The Commissioner said that the forest department would plant 5.4 saplings, while private organizations would plant 2 million saplings, Pakistan Army would plant 1.2 million and other departments would also plant 0.
2 million saplings in the division.
Divisional Officer, Forest ,Nisar Khan briefed the Commissioner that on the Independence Day (August 14) 30,000 saplings would be planted in four districts in which 10,000 saplings would be planted in Sargodha and 5,000 in other three districts each, while the forest department would also distribute 1500 saplings to citizens free of cost, he added.
The Commissioner Dr Irshad Ahmad highlighted that trees were imperative to counter environmental pollution, in addition to combating climate changes. "Therefore, the nation should take part actively in the tree plantation campaign to plant maximum trees in greater national interest", he added.
A country not known for leadership at home provides some abroad
Pakistan is not often praised for its leadership. Yet its climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, was one of the star turns at the un climate talks held in Sharm el-Sheikh last week. At the helm of the “g77+China” negotiating group of developing countries, Ms Rehman won plaudits for shepherding a new deal to channel money from rich countries to poor ones that have suffered climate-related disasters. It was the annual climate jamboree’s single main achievement.
Ms Rehman, a former journalist, information minister and ambassador to America, blends well-heeled glamour and toughness. A rare champion of Pakistani liberalism, the 61-year-old Karachiite is known for her fights against honour killings and the country’s cruel blasphemy laws. They have earned her multiple death threats. She also bears scars from a suicide blast aimed at her friend Benazir Bhutto (the former prime minister survived that jihadist attack, but not one weeks later). By comparison, the talks in Sharm el-Sheikh must have seemed like the holiday camp that the Egyptian town usually is.
Yet Ms Rehman was also assisted by the fact that the massive floods Pakistan suffered this year, costing an estimated $30bn in damages, are one of the biggest climate-related disasters on record. They gave moral authority to her argument that poor countries should receive “loss and damage” funds from the rich countries whose emissions have contributed to such calamities. A study attributes the engorged monsoon floods in part to global warming. Yet Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of the stock of global emissions.
Pakistani environmental activists, a subset of the country’s embattled liberal campaigners, hope Ms Rehman’s triumph will stir more climate action back home. It had been modestly increasing before the floods—with, for example, a few cases in which activists sued the government for neglecting its environmental commitments. Yet Pakistan’s climate change ministry is vastly underfunded. Just $43m were allocated to it this year from a federal budget of $47bn. A proposed national climate change authority has yet to be formed, five years after a law was passed to facilitate it. Pakistan, which experiences some of the hottest temperatures on Earth, has only just begun serious work on a national adaptation plan.
The floods helped publicise such shortcomings. Pakistan’s few climate experts were suddenly hot property on the country’s news channels. But will that focus be maintained? As the government scrambles to provide flood relief, it is giving little thought to climate-proofing against future disasters. Before the floods, Ms Rehman was pushing a $11bn-17bn initiative to regenerate the Indus river that supports the livelihoods, indirectly or directly, of over 200m people. But funds that might have been earmarked for the programme are now going on flood relief.
The heightened global attention she has brought to Pakistan’s flood losses could attract a lot more money and relevant expertise. That could make the country a poster child not only for loss-and-damage activism but, more usefully, for long-term planning and climate resilience. There is a precedent for this. After a devastating cyclone in 1970 Bangladesh built one of the world’s best disaster preparedness schemes. A tragic, likelier scenario would see the momentum generated by Pakistan’s calamity and Ms Rehman’s astute diplomacy lost in a protracted relief effort and Pakistan’s usual obsessions with politics and scandal. At least, until the floodwaters rise again.■
Until now, renewable energy sources make up a very minor fraction of Pakistan’s overall power generation mix. According to a recent report of the National Electric Power Regulatovry Authority, the installed capacity for wind and solar accounts for roughly 4.2% (1,831 MW) and 1.4% (630 MW) of a total of 43,775 MW, respectively.
China is already the biggest investor in green energy in Pakistan. Currently, out of the $144 million in foreign investment in solar PV plants in Pakistan, $125 million is from China, accounting for nearly 87% of the total.
Thanks to Chinese investments, a few weeks ago Federal Power Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan inaugurated two new wind energy projects in Jhimpir, Thatta District, Sindh, with an aim to produce cheaper and clean electricity through indigenous energy sources. Wind projects in this region have been one of several renewable energy projects to have received Chinese investment in recent years. Around 90 kilometers from Karachi, Jhimpir is the heartland of the country’s largest ‘Wind corridor’, which has the potential to produce 11,000 megawatts (MW) of energy from green resources.
The Pakistani authorities say that prospective developers must submit bids for a new 600 MW solar tender by May 8.
Pakistan's Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) has launched a tender to deploy 600 MW of PV capacity. It said the new solar projects will be built in the districts of Kot Addu and Muzaffargargh, Punjab province.
Selected developers will be expected to build the plants on a build, own, and operate transfer (BOOT) basis. They have until May 8 to submit project proposals. The deadline was originally set for April 17.
According to the latest statistics from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Pakistan had 1,234 MW of installed PV capacity by the end of 2022. Last year, the nation newly installed 166 MW of solar capacity.
NEPRA, the country's energy authority, recently granted 12 generation licenses, with a total capacity of 211.42 MW. Nine of those approvals were granted to solar projects with a total capacity of 44.74 MW.
In May, NEPRA launched the Competitive Trading Bilateral Contract Market (CTBCM), a new model for Pakistan’s wholesale electricity market. The Central Power Purchasing Agency said the model will “introduce competition in the electricity market and provide an enabling environment where multiple sellers and buyers can trade electricity.”
UK coal and gold mining projects developer Oracle Power PLC (LON:ORCP) and Power Construction Corporation of China (SHA:601669), also known as PowerChina, have agreed to partner in the potential joint development of a 1-GW solar project in the desert of southeastern Pakistan.
The Thar Solar Project will be based on the unutilised land at Oracle's Thar Block VI coalfield in the Sindh Province, which is located about 250 kilometres (155.3 miles) from the proposed site of the company’s green hydrogen project in the region.
The facility is expected to be equipped with about 1.5 million photovoltaic (PV) panels, providing an installed capacity of 655 watts per panel and generating about 1.7 billion kWh annually, a statement said on Wednesday.
Oracle has already obtained conditional permission from the local Sindh government to build solar plants at its 66.1-square-kilometre Thar Block VI.
The power to be produced from the solar plant could be injected into the national grid or sold to the grid of a private distributor. It could also be utilised to reduce the carbon footprint at other coalfields within the Thar Coal Power Project.
Under the cooperation agreement, the Chinese partner will help Oracle study the feasibility of the project and coordinate work with the government of China. The UK-based firm, in turn, will work on securing the funding of the project and also coordinate ongoing negotiations with the governments of Sindh and Pakistan.
“We look forward to working closely with our partners to swiftly establish ourselves as front runners in the production of renewable power and green energy solutions in Pakistan and in the broader region,” Oracle’s CEO Naheed Memon said in the statement.
The UK-based firm, which is focused on Western Australia and Pakistan, is also working on a 1.2-GW solar, wind and green hydrogen project in Sindh.