Pakistan will not build new gas-powered plants in the coming years, instead opting to quadruple its coal-fired output, Reuters reports. The plan to switch from imported gas to coal, of which Pakistan has an abundance within its borders, reflects the latest challenge for low-income countries struggling to decarbonize their economies.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year resulted in skyrocketing natural gas prices, Pakistan has been unable to afford its gas imports. Natural gas, most of which is imported, typically accounts for about one-third of the country’s energy mix.
Pakistan’s foreign reserves fell to $2.9 billion last week, enough for just three weeks of imports. The country’s sovereign debt was downgraded further into junk territory by credit ratings firm Fitch.
While lower-income countries such as Pakistan are near-negligible contributors to global carbon dioxide emissions, they have borne the brunt of climate catastrophe. Last summer, devastating floods left half of Pakistan underwater.