Partnerships to Phase Out Coal, Mobilize Renewable Energy Finance: Experts

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ISLAMABAD: Experts in Pakistan have emphasized the importance of just energy transition partnerships to phase out coal and promote investments in renewable energy (RE). This key message was conveyed during a symposium on “Just Energy Transition in Pakistan” organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and the Network for Clean Energy Transition in Pakistan: Research and Advocacy.

Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, the Joint Executive Director of SDPI, highlighted the challenges faced by Pakistan in rapidly adopting renewable energy, including insufficient infrastructure and grid stability. He emphasized the need for innovative decentralized energy models, micro-grids, and the development of the local RE industry, along with building storage capacity to address these challenges.

Michael Waldron, the Economic Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), emphasized the need to increase energy sector investments by 3-4 times to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He highlighted the role that “Just Energy Transition Partnerships” (JETPs) can play, including providing low-cost finance to RE, promoting policies to phase out fossil fuels, and supporting a just transition for affected workers. He also stressed the importance of prioritizing the halt of coal power development, retiring existing plants, and exploring solutions for repurposing coal power plants while incentivizing RE solutions.

Dr. Khalid Waleed, Lead Researcher at SDPI, highlighted the Asian Development Bank’s Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM) as a source of technical assistance, policy support, capacity building, and financing mechanisms. He emphasized the need to consider factors such as long-term sustainability, debt accumulation, research and data collection, monitoring and evaluation frameworks, knowledge sharing, adaptation to the local context, capacity building, raising public awareness, and engaging stakeholders for effective implementation of the ETM.

Fiza Qureshi, Manager Program at Indus Consortium, expressed concerns about the lack of direct communication between stakeholders and the ETM, and the omission of broader communities impacted by power plants in stakeholder mapping. She emphasized the need for assessments and compensation for affected communities. Syaharani, a Researcher from the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), called for data disclosure by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other stakeholders to facilitate effective monitoring of the JETP implementation.

Asad Mahmood, a renewable energy expert, suggested revisiting ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) targets to demonstrate Pakistan’s commitment to climate action. He mentioned the importance of the “Enhanced Transparency Framework” of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the tools like ETM and JETPs for tracking NDC activities.

Matthew Gray, CEO of Transition Zero, emphasized the need for energy planning tools to inform long-term power development plans. He mentioned that these tools are often inaccessible in developing and emerging economies and highlighted the efforts of Transition Zero to reduce barriers and enable policy and decision-makers to make informed scenarios without extensive knowledge of modeling tools.

Muhammad Mustafa, Program Officer at Renewables First, highlighted the financial challenges faced by Pakistan in transitioning to renewable energy. He suggested that a well-designed JETP with actionable commitments and targets can accelerate RE financing by providing market signals. He also stressed the importance of a comprehensive investment plan to separate energy from politics and provide environmental stability that attracts investors.

Afia Malik, Senior Research Economist at PIDE, discussed the impact of Pakistan’s existing coal capacity on the transition to renewable energy. She mentioned long-term agreements under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and logistic issues due to global events that have increased reliance on coal. She highlighted the need to address these challenges.

Ubaid ur Rehman Zia, Senior Research Associate at SDPI, emphasized that Pakistan lacks financial stability and technical infrastructure for driving

the shift towards RE. He highlighted the role of JETPs, such as the ADB’s energy transition mechanism, in bridging the financing gap in the energy sector. AGENCIES

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