By Fakhra Muneeb
Provision of energy is a basic necessity of human being. It is the life blood of all economic activities. Without access to sufficient energy the target of economic and social development cannot be achieved.
In the wake of climate change and environmental degradation in Pakistan, the importance of renewable energy and cleaner production technologies has been increasing.
Pakistan is more vulnerable to climate change. Therefore, there is no greater challenge than tackling climate change and no bigger economic opportunity than that offered by the emergent fields of renewable and cleaner energy technology. Pakistan has made a commitment called “Paris Agreement” to combat climate change that joins various nations from around the globe. It is focused upon making opportunities in efficient and clean energy and renewable energy.
The potential for renewable energy around the World is massive, especially in Pakistan, due to its geostrategic location. Pakistan’s economy suffers from some of the highest electricity prices, perpetuating poverty, contributing to national debts, and preventing any form of sustainable development. Pakistan contributes 0.72% to the total world greenhouse gases emissions but is bearing the brunt of climate change and suffers from huge devastating impacts, like rising sea level, extreme weather events and enhancing temperature which ultimately threatens the food security and lead to the declining socio-economic development.
Pakistan is blessed with snow-capped mountains and glaciers which have tremendous potential sites for hydel power in Northern parts of Pakistan. While moving towards coastal and plain areas, Pakistan is fortunate to have wind and solar power due to high wind cities, the presence of lakes and rivers and availability of turbines which could be harnessed.
Pakistan has the fifth largest coal deposits in the world. When power is produced from coal, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides are produced as well, which cause an increase in smog, ozone depletion and acid rain. Nitrous oxide is also a very powerful greenhouse gas. Even before the power is produced, the transportation of coal also impacts health due to the coal dust and the emissions from the vehicles. The heavy metals from coal mine waste can leach into groundwater and rivers, of which there are many in use Pakistan. People are highly dependent on fossilfuels like natural gas, diesel, oil for generating electricity and used for livelihood purposes. Energy sector in Pakistan is the leading supplier of Green House Gas emissions, contributing more than 80% of the total CO2 emission in the country. The main sources of these emissions are thermal power plants in public & private sector and industries with captive power plants using fossil fuels. The depleting forests due to use of fire wood in rural, urban and hilly areas are also bases of Climate Change and Global Warming.
The Climate Change is causing rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers threatening water inflows into the Indus River System, and increasing floods and droughts conditions in arid and semi-arid regions, and the change in rainfall patterns leading to reduction in agriculture productivity and power generation.
Pakistan has signed on CPEC mega project which may have a huge and devastating impact on the environment, especially in terms of climate change. Pakistan will suffer more from irregular weather patterns like flooding, land sliding, melting of glaciers due to huge CO2 accumulation caused by heavy transportation through the fragile and mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan area, where natural disasters have caused immense destruction in the past.
It is the need of an hour to develop and implement the alternative strategy to compensate the environmental degradation resulting from this developmental project. The best solution to overcome is to use of renewable energy and cleaner technologies.
It is time to act and take decision to determine the future of anthropogenic fossil fuels usage. If we depend more and more on fossil fuels, our emissions will increase .if we collectively use efficient renewable energy, our emissions will not increase and climate will become stable. These are the choices for economies, environment, politics and society from the local to globe.
New and innovative ideas and skills contribute to enhance the quality of human life. Strong institutions and policy makers should incorporate cleaner technologies into their policies and developmental projects.