Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Botswana dithers over commitment to IEA

Botswana which tops the world’s list of countries where coal-fired power plants have the largest share in overall electricity generation seems to be dithering over its commitment to the International Energy Agency (IEA) to phase down the fossil fuel.

The Ministry of  Minerals and Energy announced last week that it has picked India’s Jindal Steel & Power Ltd as the preferred bidder in a tender to build a 300 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant, in a move that is expected to increase the country’s share of coal in electricity production.

According to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), Botswana which is currently at the top of 40 countries with the largest shares of coal in electricity production is also among 20 countries from this group that has accepted stringent commitment to phase down the use of coal in electricity production.

Among the 40 countries, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are the only two that have not accepted any kind of commitment regarding phasing out the fossil fuel. Eighteen other countries from the group have either  undertaken an international obligation, but only regarding giving up the construction of new coal-fired power plants or set the goal to achieve net-zero emissions, but without committing to phase out coal. This position has also been adopted by some of the world’s most powerful nations and, at the same time, the biggest CO2 emitters, including India, China, the US, Australia, Malaysia, Taiwan.

Data from the IEA shows that although Botswana is among the 20 countries that made the stringent commitment to phase down the use of coal in electricity production the country has not shown enough commitment and is not among eleven countries from the group of 20 that have already prepared national plans to stop using coal. In fact, indications are that Botswana government may be wavering over this commitment. The Botswana government last week entered into a contract with Jindal Steel & Power Ltd for “ the design, finance, construction, ownership, operation, maintenance and decommissioning at the end of its economic life … of a 300MW net greenfield coal-fired power plant in Botswana as an Independent Power Producer,” reads a notice from the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Jindal will finance construction of the plant and recoup its investments from selling electricity to the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) under terms to be negotiated between the two parties.

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