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Experts urge government to focus on renewable energy

Karachi

January 21, 2021

Welcoming Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment at a UN summit not to go for new coal power projects, speakers at a webinar on Wednesday urged that renewable energy should be promoted in the country.

The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum organised the webinar, which was attended by representatives of the Alliance for Climate Justice and Clean Energy, academia, civil society representatives and media.

Participants of the webinar hailed Premier Khan’s commitment at the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 last month to not have any more power generation based on coal in the future, but they also showed their concerns that Khan said coal would be converted into liquid and gas.

PFF chairman Muhammad Ali Shah said the government should not include hydropower plants in the category of renewables because those had severe impacts on river ecology, aquatic life and the lives and livelihoods dependent on river waters.

“The ongoing land acquisition for coal power projects has dislocated thousands of local families from their ancestral villages and is alienating them from their agricultural fields, grazing lands and livelihood sources, resulting in atrocious forms of social injustice and poverty,” Shah said.

“Instead of resolving the problem, the plans to produce energy from gasification and liquefaction of Thar coal would intensify the issue of displacement and dispossession.”

Advocate Zain Moulvi, a representative of Alternative Law Collective, said the Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP) plan involved only a 30 per cent share for renewables in 2030, which further slipped to as low as 14 per cent in the year 2047.

Meanwhile, the share for coal is set to rise steadily to 37 per cent in the same period, he said. The plan has completely ignored the trend of rapidly declining costs in current Alternative and Renewable Energy (ARE) technologies including solar, wind, ocean tidal, geothermal, and other hybrids.

Haneea Isaad, a research associate at the Rural Development Policy Institute (RDPI), said the government’s intention to pursue alternate options for energy generation such as the conversion of coal to oil or gas, could also lead to severe implications for the communities residing in Thar as well as the economy of the country.