United States and Pakistan: Partners in Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change
December 3, 2010
Ambassador Cameron Munter
Around the world today, we are already seeing the damaging effects of climate change, from increasing flooding and melting glaciers to rising sea levels and lengthening droughts. The toll on our planet will only get worse if the international community does not strengthen its efforts to address this problem.
The ongoing United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico offers an opportunity to take an important step forward - and we must seize this moment together. The United States is committed to working with Pakistan and our other international partners to meet this great global challenge.
At Cancun, we must build on the progress made last year in Copenhagen and move forward on all key elements of the negotiations - mitigation of emissions, transparency of actions, financing, adaptation, and technology. As part of the Copenhagen Accord, for the first time all major economies committed to take actions to limit their emissions in an internationally transparent manner. The agreement also includes landmark provisions for financial assistance to support clean technology development, adaptation, and forest protection in those countries most in need. These provisions consist of a pledge for "fast start" funding by developed countries approaching $30 billion over the years 2010-2012.
The United States is delivering on our fast start commitment. This year alone, the United States has significantly increased its climate finance funding to a total of $1.7 billion. Evidence of this progress can be seen in Pakistan.
For example, we are providing $2.1 million (Rs. 178.5 million) to promote market-based, modern biomass energy conversion technologies for power generation in rural areas in this country.
But our commitment to help Pakistan meet its energy and environmental needs goes further. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding rehabilitation of the Tarbela hydropower plant to generate electricity for approximately 150,000 homes. As part of Kerry-Lugar-Berman assistance, USAID is also investing $66 million (Rs. 5.6 billion) to support the completion of two multi-purpose dams that will produce hydropower, control flooding, and store water for irrigation. The dam in South Waziristan will electrify approximately 25,000 households and will mitigate potential flood damage. The dam in the Gilgit-Baltistan area will reduce load shedding to approximately 280,000 people in Skardu and provide more than 11 million liters of potable water per day.
The Governments of the United States and Pakistan, together with American power company AES Corporation, recently signed a public-private partnership agreement to develop a $375 million (Rs. 32 billion) wind power generation project in the Gharo Corridor of Pakistan. The project will produce 150 megawatts of new, "clean" power serving some 600,000 homes and reduce Pakistan's dependence on imported fuel, saving Pakistani citizens $45 million (Rs. 3.8 billion) per year.
These projects are all manifestations of the vital partnership between the United States and Pakistan - one that benefits the everyday lives of Pakistani citizens.
The United States is also working hard to reduce its own emissions and transition to a clean energy economy. President Obama's Recovery Act provided more than $80 billion in investments, loans, and incentives to support a range of initiatives that are vital to this goal. We have put in place the most ambitious U.S. automotive fuel economy and emission standards ever. And President Obama continues to work with Congress to pass domestic energy and climate legislation.
As I travel throughout Pakistan, I see broad concern about the impacts of climate change, particularly increased flooding. But I am encouraged by the actions that are being taken here and around the world to work toward a clean energy future.
Just as no nation can escape the effects of climate change, no nation alone can solve this problem. The United States is committed to working with Pakistan and other partners to build a sustainable, clean energy economy that will lift people out of poverty, deliver energy to people who need it, and preserve the environment. The Copenhagen Accord and the current climate change meeting in Cancun are important steps in our collective commitment to build a healthier and more prosperous planet for all.