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Pakistan president seeks investment in clean energy

The Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari says his country must more than double its economic growth rate and invest in sustainable energy to improve its citizens' standards of living.

Pakistan must more than double its economic growth rate and invest in sustainable energy to improve its citizens' standards of living, says the country's president.

"We are an example of the world's energy crisis," Asif Ali Zardari told an international audience at Abu Dhabi's World Future Energy Summit yesterday. "We face drought, we face massive food shortages and potential starvation."

Achieving such ambitions will be a challenge in Pakistan, which is still recovering from last summer's monsoon floods that at one point put one fifth of its land under water and displaced 2 million people. Damage to its economy has been estimated at up US$43 billion (Dh157.93bn).

Developing sustainable energy will be crucial for Pakistan as it tries to rebuild its economy in the face of earthquakes and flooding.

"We have assaulted the balance of nature," Mr Zardari said. "The cost to produce the energy was sometimes more than the cost of the energy it would produce."

Pakistan relies on a mix of fossil fuels, nuclear power and hydroelectricity. It needs to reform its electricity industry by slashing subsidies that increase its budget deficit, the IMF said in a report published after the floods.

Peak summer electricity demand is expected to hit 41,132 megawatts within a decade, and estimated production levels will cover only three quarters of that, according to government figures.

Mr Zardari blamed today's climate change issues on aggressive energy growth that has "led to hunger and instability in the poorer countries".

The IMF has projected that Pakistan's GDP growth will hit 2.75 per cent this year, far short of Mr Zardari's goal. Growth was as high as 6.6 per cent in 2007, but in 2009 it plummeted to 2.7 per cent.

Mr Zardari, whose country relies heavily on agriculture, urged political and business leaders at the summit to focus on cleaner agriculture practices such as organic fertilisers made from algae in addition to clean energy.

 

ayee@thenational.ae

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