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Pakistan is increasing its use of coal to generate electricity at a time when many other countries are reducing coal use in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions or pollution. China is helping Pakistan expand its coal-fired generation capacity through the financing and construction of coal power plants as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). CPEC is a component of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to forge greater global connectivity in part through infrastructure development. Nearly 75 percent of the generation capacity of CPEC power plants is coal-fired. Pakistan’s National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) expects that CPEC coal power plants will be largely responsible for the projected increase in the country’s coal-fired generation capacity from 3 percent as of June 30, 2017 (fewer than six months after the first CPEC coal plant began commercial operation), to 20 percent in 2025.
As part of its series on the Belt and Road Initiative, Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy initiated research into the CPEC power sector projects, which account for the majority of the cost of CPEC projects. This paper examines two of the key concerns critics have about the BRI: environmental sustainability and debt sustainability. Concerns about environmental sustainability center on the ways in which an expansion of the amount of electricity generated globally by fossil fuels, especially coal, will increase greenhouse gas emissions, making it more difficult if not impossible to meet the emissions targets in the Paris Agreement. Concerns about debt sustainability focus on whether China’s lending in support of infrastructure projects will lead to problematic increases in debt, with some analysts maintaining that Beijing is intentionally seeking to push countries into debt distress in an attempt to gain control over strategic assets or decision-making in borrowing countries.
The main findings of this study are threefold.
To achieve the Paris Agreement goals, the global buildings sector must achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and all new buildings must be net-zero carbon starting in 2030.
This commentary represents the research and views of the author. It does not necessarily represent...
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) play a major role in the production of goods and services across many of the world’s largest economies, particularly in electricity generation, oil and gas, and heavy industry.
Corporate pledges to purchase renewable electricity have led to significant new solar and wind capacity investments and driven down the carbon intensity of the power sector in the United States.