Energy and agriculture are Pakistan’s key emitting sectors, with the former emitting mostly carbon dioxide and the latter emitting mostly methane and nitrous oxide. In 2017, fuel combusting activities in the energy sector (from power, industrial energy use, transport, and to a lesser degree, energy use in buildings) accounted for 87% of CO₂ emissions, with industrial processes accounting for another 9%. In industrial energy use, the cement (90% fuelled by coal) and textiles (70% fuelled by natural gas) industries are the largest consumers. Cement production relies heavily on coal while the textile industry has been found to be the country’s largest importer of CO₂ emissions.
Emissions from the agricultural sector comprise mostly of methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O). The main drivers for these are, respectively, enteric fermentation and heavy use of nitrogenous fertilisers in agricultural soils., Livestock contributed to 65% of CH₄ emissions, while waste and energy (fugitive emissions) accounted for 15% and 14% respectively. N₂O emissions were mostly due to agricultural activities other than livestock (86%).
A 2017 study found that given the government’s policies regarding economic growth, under a business-as-usual scenario the country’s GHG emissions would double by 2020 and increase by around 14 times by 2050 relative to 2008 levels., In reality, emissions have increased by around 40% between 2008 and 2019. Nonetheless, the government’s own projections, which inform its NDC, also see total emissions growing exponentially in line with GDP growth targets, with the bulk of the change occurring in the energy and agricultural sectors.
With regards to agriculture, both the sector’s emissions intensity, and share of GDP, have seen a steady decline since 2000. The main drivers for this decline have been reduced cultivation area, reduction in fertiliser use due to high costs, and lower water availability. It is expected that climate change will contribute to reduced agricultural crop productivity, particularly wheat and rice, in the country, and that this will in turn lead to higher commodity prices and reduced domestic consumption.
As for the energy sector, emissions are expected to rise with increased energy demand due to industrial development and urbanisation. Energy consumption did grow at a high rate between 2016 and 2018 (around 9.4% annually), but this dropped to 0.01% in 2019 and was -5.14% in 2020. GDP has also grown at a lower average annual rate, around 4.5% between 2015-2019, compared with the 7-9% the government has assumed in its baseline 2030 projections, which take into account Pakistan’s economic and developmental objectives. More importantly, the government’s baseline emissions growth given in the country’s NDC, are around 9.6% p.a. between 2015 and 2030. This being greater than projected GDP growth implies an increasing emissions intensity, in contrast to the decreasing trend seen since 2000. This increased emissions intensity may be based on an outdated assumption regarding the increase in coal power generation. While coal power has seen a substantial increase in recent years, this was mainly funded through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor., With China announcing that it will end overseas investment in coal projects, some of the remaining projects in development could be shelved. However, much of the coal capacity under development will likely come on-line in the next few years and the government plans to significantly increase reliance on locally mined coal.,