The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been a major funder of coal power plants – funding over $1.69 billion since 2007. Last 2013, they have given out a loan amounting to US$30.00 M that aims to provide cheap, reliable power to a region that has struggled with power outages.
The new 1,200-megawatt Jamshoro power plant came without the support of the U.S. government citing “significant, grave and lasting negative impacts that coal [has] on the environment.” But despite the absence of the US vote, ADB still pushed through the project because of the acute power shortages of up to 20 hours a day that have crippled the economic growth of the country. It was said to be a contributing factor to the unemployment and social unrest across the country Pakistan.
According to the project brief, the coal-fired generation unit is the first in the country to use supercritical boiler technology. It was built at an existing power plant in the town of Jamshoro in Sindh province, about 150 kilometres east of the provincial capital, Karachi. ADB also claimed that it is employing state of the art emission control equipment resulting in “cleaner emissions than the existing heavy fuel oil-fired generators and subcritical boiler technology which is more commonly used.”
However, a lot of people think that this project is not a good idea since the country has already begun to feel the effects of climate change. One of them is Khawar Mumtaz, the chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women, “Women in the region serve not only as workers but as primary caregivers to their families. Because they must walk farther distances to fetch water and collect wood, they have less time for their families and friends, and more often end up with health issues because of it”.
In a report by Emily Atkin of Thinkprogress.org, the women in Sindh –the south-east part of the country have been “socialising less, walking further, and encountering health issues due to shortages in fuelwood and fresh water”. These changes were attributed to climate change since weather patterns and intensity of heat and cold have changed working patterns of people, especially female farmers.
There are around 42 million women farmers in Pakistan, most of them have replaced substantive cropping with cash crops. This also made them replace natural fertilisers to chemicals, pesticides and hybrid seeds. Forests were replaced with banana cultivation, and dams resulted in the decrease of fish.
Though the coal plant seems to be a sign of hope for most people since ADB under its Energy Policy 2009 have been selectively supporting new coal-based power plants in its developing member countries after a careful consideration of alternate scenarios, but it is still an omen of climate issues that will come after because the process is still burning coal.
Written by Jen Derillo. Jen is NGO Forum on ADB's Program Coordinator for Communications.