Pakistan races to tap virgin coal fields to meet energy crunch – by Rina Saeed Khan (Reuters U.S. – February 27, 2017)

THARPARKAR DISTRICT, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A line of trucks weaves in and out of the open coal pit that has been dug in the Thar Desert in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province. Below the massive hole lies one of the world’s largest coal reserves, untapped until now.

For years Pakistan used its Thar coal reserves as a bargaining chip in global climate negotiations. Since it was not mining the coal, it argued, it should receive easier access to international climate finance and to clean technology to help it grow in a cleaner and more sustainable way.

But as part of its attempt to end the country’s energy crisis which has caused frequent power cuts for years, the government is encouraging mining companies to the area.

Traditionally Pakistan has had relatively low emissions of climate changing gases. But under the global Paris Agreement to address climate change, the country has admitted it is likely to see a four-fold increase in emissions by 2030.

The coal mine is set to become Pakistan’s biggest industrial site, said Shamsuddin Shaikh, head of the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), a joint venture between the Sindh government and Engro Powergen. The company is mining 1 percent of the deposits in one of 13 investment blocks.

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