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Pakistan Shifting to renewables

Luckily for Pakistan, it has huge solar and wind energy potential that could satisfy not just its domestic electricity need, he said, but of almost all the countries in the region’s “many times over”.

Although Pakistan’s contribution to the climate crisis is negligible at just 0.8pc, it is imperative it shifts from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to decarbonise electricity if it wants to meet the Paris Climate pledges, said Dr Imran Khalid, an expert on environmental sustainability and climate governance. “Pakistan can truly show leadership by embarking on a plan to decarbonise its energy sector at its earliest.”

Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger

For now 46pc of the country’s total emissions is coming from burning fossil fuels.

To overcome the power shortages, Pakistan was forced to invest heavily in coal under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), that too at a time when the rest of the world was moving away from the dirty fuel.

“The global community might make coal more expensive to import because those selling coal would need to ensure that a price is paid for the CO2 produced when burning coal,” warned Dr Anwar.

“The economic case for renewable energy is growing, while the viability of building new coal plants, or even maintaining existing ones, is shrinking,” pointed out climate scientist Dr Fahad Saeed, who is working with Climate Analytics, an international think tank.

Although Pakistan’s new renewable energy policy aims to alter the emission profile of the country to meet 30pc of its energy needs using renewables (primarily solar and wind) and 30pc by hydropower by 2030, its “addiction to coal, like so many other countries” makes it harder to leave the dirty fuel, said Dr Anwar.

But, Dr Saeed pointed out, a shift towards renewables would have multiple benefits including “increased energy security, access for all, avoided air pollution damages and reduced water use, land contamination and environmental degradation”.

With 64pc of Pakistan’s population below the age of 30 of which 29pc is between the ages of 15 and 29 years, Dr Saeed said aligning its “investment in human capital with renewable technologies” would be a smart move.

“Besides being useful domestically, the trained professionals in renewable energy-related disciplines could tap into the global market,” he said.

“Renewable energy is the future; the sooner Pakistan understands that, the quicker it can put in place an effective plan to decarbonise its energy sources,” said Dr Khalid.

The outcomes from the recently held US Climate Summit clearly point towards a future where “availability of renewable technology will advance very rapidly and Pakistan needs to adjust and stay abreast of it”, agreed Dr Saeed.

But Pakistan seems reluctant to let go of coal. Prime Minister Imran Khan plans to explore the possibility of cleaner technologies like coal to liquid (CTL) and coal to gas (CTG) options in a bid to reduce emissions while carrying on with coal, which Dr Saeed said were not only “prohibitively expensive but water and energy-intensive”.


Post dated 16 May 2021


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India's River Diversion Plan and South Asia's Waters

More dams are to come, as India’s need to power its economy means it is quietly spending billions on hydropower in Kashmir. The Senate report totted up 33 hydro projects in the border area with Pakistan. The state’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, says dams will add an extra 3,000MW to the grid in the next eight years alone. Some analysts in Srinagar talk of over 60 dam projects, large and small, now on the books. (This special report has appeared in the Bulletin on Current Affairs - February 2012, you may have to Buy the print edition to read full story)

More in the Edition:

South Asia's Water - a growing rivalry

Indian, Pakistani & Chinese Border Disputes

India's River Diversion Plan: Its impact on Bangladesh

Water Crisis can Trigger nuclear war in South Asia

Reclaimed Water - the Western Experience

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