Pakistan PM’s Special Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam with Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi at COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow on November 2, 2021. Image Credit: IAEA Twitter

Islamabad: The UN atomic agency chief has praised Pakistan’s efforts and achievements to address climate challenges.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met Pakistan PM’s Special Advisor on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on the sidelines of the UN climate summit COP26 in Glasgow on November 2. They also discussed various areas of cooperation to promote nuclear energy to accelerate the clean energy transition in Pakistan.

“Nuclear is an important component of Pakistan’s decarbonization and mitigation plans” IAEA chief Grossi said in a tweet. In his meeting with Pakistan’s climate change, he discussed the application of nuclear technologies that can contribute to climate change adaptation such as through sustainable agriculture.

Amin Aslam said that he had ab “excellent and productive meeting” with the IAEA chief Rafael Grossi who endorsed Pakistan as a “most responsible nuclear” state and supported the expansion of peaceful nuclear energy as a sustainable zero-carbon mitigation option and for climate-smart agriculture.”

Peaceful uses of nuclear technologies

The IAEA chief acknowledged Pakistan’s accomplishments in the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies for coping with the adverse impacts of the global warming-caused climate breakdown. He especially lauded “Pakistan’s successful development of a high-yield climate-resilient cotton plant with the use of nuclear techniques.”

Pakistan’s first cotton variety developed using nuclear techniques was released in 1983. A total of 16 cotton varieties have been developed since then. These new varieties have a higher yield, improved fibre quality and adaptability to climate change variation.

The new varieties developed now account for 40 per cent of all cotton produced in Pakistan. With the collaboration between Pakistan’s Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB) NIAB, the IAEA and FAO, Pakistani scientists have reached a level of expertise that they can share with other countries, according to IAEA.

Long-standing relationship

Recalling IAEA’s long-standing relationship with Pakistan, Grossi said that he was looking forward to visiting Pakistan soon to expand collaboration.

“Pakistan is among countries which are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and at the same time an energy deficient country. Our efforts to expand the share of nuclear power in the national energy mix will help the country address this twin challenge,” he said. He also appreciated that the operational nuclear power plants in Pakistan are contributing to global efforts for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

During the meeting, Pakistan’s climate change advisor said that” nuclear power, as a zero-carbon source of energy, had an indispensable role to play in support of global efforts to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change.”

He also briefed the IAEA’s director general on Pakistan’s ambition to attain the goal 60 per cent of the clean green energy share in the country’s mix by 2030. Amin Aslam also shared details of the country’s revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), a carbon reduction framework, under the Paris climate pact 2015 envisaged avoidance of around 50 million tons of CO2 equivalent on annual basis by 2030, mostly by replacing coal-fired power plants with renewable, clean energy projects.