By: Halima Usman
Three years ago, Pakistan took a step towards reducing the levels of heat trapping carbon dioxide gas through ratification of Conference of Parties 21 agreement in 2015. On the other hand, the recent government has been successful in initiating multibillion fossil fuel projects.
Pakistan has been termed as the 7th most vulnerable country towards climate change in the Global Climate Risk Index 2018 report. In addition to this, it has faced record breaking floods for three consecutive years from 2010-2012, along with scorching heat waves of 2015 and alteration of the seasonal and rainfall patterns. The issue of power shortages has not been solved till now in spite of the government promises resulting in regular electric power outages in most parts of the country. Also, a great population of urban households is backed up by standby generators operating on natural gas, diesel and liquid propane gas pouring additional CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The electrical grid that is powered by coal and the backup generators powered by diesel is exacerbating the process of global warming at a faster rate. The development of our country relies on coal, oil and natural gas as major components of energy mix.
Climate change is widely considered to be a human interest issue. Harnessing renewable energy for large scale projects can provide immense benefits to a developing country like ours. Trajectory growth of renewable facilities in China and India act as an example for Pakistan, diverting from fossil fuel powered projects. With a staggering population of 207.8 million, Pakistan has been termed as the 6th most populous country and the population continues to exceed with high rate of unemployment. Introduction of renewable energy technologies can provide job opportunities ranging from construction, installation, consulting services and provide a pathway to develop skills and gaining knowledge on the current renewable technology sector.
Another important aspect of renewable industry is that the water usage is little to none for the operation of projects. Pakistan has become one of the water-stressed countries and is predicted to face water scarcity by 2025. On the contrary, coal-fired power plants are dependent on substantial amount of freshwater usage, in various processes during extraction, washing, transportation and steaming of coal. Moreover, the benefits of renewable energy should be raised in the education sector as well, giving rise to the progression of scientific research in educational institutions.
Human Development Index (HDI) reflects the energy use on the standard of living, education and long healthy life. Policies should be formulated focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that is coming directly from energy use and improving energy efficiency.
Dr. Prajal Pradhan, Researcher at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research stressed on the use of renewable energy to minimize the emissions, “Indicators for country’s progress and economy such as Gross Domestic Product and Human Development Index are highly correlated with emissions. Thus, under current paradigm, development without emission seems impossible. We need to break out these lock-in effects to transform towards low carbon society. Renewable energy is definitely a promising option. Improvement in emission intensity of developing countries is another option which might require technology transfer from developed country.”
Under the previous government, China Pakistan Economic Corridor gained the spotlight for progression and economic development. But should our progression be led by fossil fuel while the whole world is concentrating towards renewable energy production in order to limit the global temperature rise. With exhausting natural gas deposits, low cost fuel will be the next option, resulting in worsening of the air quality. It is high time that the new government must realize the severity of this issue after witnessing the climate change related natural disasters.
The contributor is pursuing a Masters in Environmental Science degree at the National University of Sciences and Technology. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org