Asian Development Bank Will Finance Coal Plant In Pakistan, Despite A ‘No’ Vote From The U.S.

CREDIT: AP/Muhammed Muheisen

Pakistani Nagina Mohammed, 7, walks back to her home carrying coal over her head, that she collected to be used for heating and cooking, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.

The Asian Development Bank is loaning $900 million to Pakistan to finance the construction of a new coal-fired power unit, a financial decision that hasn’t gained the support of the U.S. government.

The new 1,200-megawatt Jamshoro power plant aims to provide cheap, reliable power to a region that has struggled with power outages.

“Acute power shortages of up to 20 hours a day have crippled economic growth and are contributing to unemployment and social unrest across the country,” said Klaus Gerhaeusser, Director General of ADB’s Central and West Asia Department in a press release. “There is an urgent need for more affordable and dependable sources of power and this unit will generate an additional 600 megawatts of electricity for the national energy mix.”

But the approval of the plant’s financing by the ADB, which is publicly funded by its 67 member countries, came without the support of the U.S. government. ClimateWire reports that during the ADB decision process on the project’s financing, the U.S. voted against the funding of the Jamshoro power plant, citing “significant, grave and lasting negative impacts that coal [has] on the environment.”

“Our vote is the result of our global policy on climate change, not a Pakistan-specific objection,” the U.S. Treasury said in a statement.

In July, the Obama administration made a pledge not to finance oversees coal plants “unless they deploy carbon-capture technologies, or there’s no other viable way for the poorest countries to generate electricity.” Pakistan is not among the world’s poorest countries, and while the new coal plant will employ emissions controls, it won’t have CCS technology.

U.S. environmental groups praised the U.S.’s decision to stick to its July pledge and vote against the coal plant, though they were disappointed the project would be funded anyway.

“It is unfortunate that scarce public funding is being used to support more carbon pollution instead of clean energy,” Jake Schmidt, international policy director for the NRDC, told Bloomberg. “Hopefully this is the last coal-fired power plant the Asian Development Bank funds as clearly this generated a lot of controversy.”

While parts of Pakistan still struggle to gain access to reliable electricity, the country as a whole has begun to feel the effects of climate change. Last month, a report found Pakistan’s women are disproportionately affected by climate change — as temperatures increase, they’ve been been socializing less, walking farther to find wood and water, and dealing with health issues due to fuel and water shortages. And in October, another report found Pakistan was one of the countries facing “extreme risk” from cliamate change’s impacts, and that the extreme weather, rising sea levels and other upheavals triggered by climate change will threaten Pakistan’s ability to rise out of poverty.