NEW YORK: Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal Thursday stressed the need for accomplishing pledges and commitments of $600 billion registered for investments in clean energy.
“We welcome the Global Roadmap for Accelerated SDG Action, developed in the 2021 High-Level Dialogue, and the over 200 Energy Compacts, including pledges of $600 billion…yet, actions have yet to match pledges and commitments”, he said while addressing a high-level luncheon on Accelerating SDG 7 Action for the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement: Universal Energy Access here at the United Nations Headquarters.
The minister thanked Under Secretary General, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) Liu Zhenmin for inviting him and for organizing the event.
In September 2021, the first UN General Assembly (UNGA) summit-level event on energy was held in 40 years. It closed with the presentation of 137 voluntary commitments to action, known as “Energy Compacts,” which totaled around USD 400 billion in pledges which later increased to $600 billion with over 200 Energy Compacts.
Ahsan Iqbal said it is obvious that achieving SDG7: universal access to clean and sustainable energy, is indispensable for progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as climate goals.
He said Pakistan’s policy is driven by three objectives including universal access to energy; doubling the share of renewable energy; and doubling the rate of energy efficiency and conservation.
“Our aim is that by 2030, 60 percent of our energy will be clean and renewable energy. Pakistan’s solar and wind power potential is over 40,000 MW. Also, 30 percent of vehicles will be electric vehicles by 2030.”
Mr Iqbal said even before the COVID pandemic, the world was falling behind in progress towards the achievement of SDG 7 and goals of the 2030 agenda. Some 733 million people have no access to electricity; significant gaps remain between urban and rural access; and 2.4 billion people are still without access to clean cooking solutions.
For the second year in a row, investments into clean energy in developing countries have declined. In 2019, these were only $10.9 billion. Non-electricity sectors are lagging even further behind. Annual energy efficiency improvement was 1.5% last year, far short of the 3.2% target, he added.
He said today, the energy prices in developing countries have spiraled. The scramble for natural gas has pushed up prices by 1900%. Several developing countries - including Pakistan - without access to natural gas, even at exorbitant prices - are facing “brown-outs”. Revived investment in fossil fuel production is expanding. Plans for the phase-out of coal have been halted or reversed.
The minister maintained that new fossil fuel power is discouraged in the developing countries; but existing oil and coal plants continue to provide the large part of the energy in industrial countries. “Climate coalitions” have been created to provide finance to several emerging economies to induce them away from coal-fired plants.
“Such incentives have not yet been offered to those developing countries which have refrained from utilizing their coal resources.”
In the present circumstances, he said the highest priority must be to ensure energy access to all, from all sources. This should include equitable access to natural gas and a financing mechanism to offset the high energy prices for the most severely affected countries.