Sri Lanka to stop building coal-fired power plants and aims to be net zero by 2050

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa addresses the General Debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA, September 22, 2021. Justin Lane / Pool via REUTERS

COLOMBO, Sept. 24 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka will stop building new coal-fired power plants and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in a speech to the International Forum on Friday. United Nations energy.

Sri Lanka has set a target of reaching 70% of all its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.

“Sri Lanka is happy to be co-responsible for the Energy Compact for No New Coal Power,” Rajapaksa said.

Governments like Sri Lanka, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Montenegro and the UK have announced a No New Coal Power Compact to stop building coal-fired power plants, the advocacy group says of the Sustainable Energy for All climate.

Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, and small and large hydropower plants together account for half of the island nation’s installed electrical capacity, with coal and oil accounting for the rest.

Renewable and hydroelectric energies currently account for around 35% of the country’s electricity demand.

“Our goal is to move away from fossil fuels, promote decarbonization and make Sri Lanka a carbon neutral country by 2050,” he said on Friday.

Faced with what they see as an existential threat, low-lying and island country leaders pleaded with wealthy nations at the United Nations General Assembly this week to act with greater force against global warming.

Sri Lanka is the latest Asian country to pledge to end construction of new coal-fired power plants, following similar moves by South Korea and Japan earlier this year. Asia accounts for the lion’s share of global coal consumption.

Sri Lanka’s announcement follows China’s pledge not to build new overseas coal-fired power projects at the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week.

China has significant investments in infrastructure and energy projects in Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and in African countries like Kenya.

Sri Lanka will also discourage imports of fossil-fueled vehicles, encourage the adoption of electric cars and investments in green energy, Rajapaksa said.

“I call on countries that have the capacity to support developing countries as they attempt this transition to more sustainable energy production,” he said.

Additional reporting by Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo; written by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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