Pakistan is a developing country and globally ranks sixth in terms of population size. Not surprisingly, it is also facing the severe challenges of energy demand and climate change.
At a global level, Pakistan contributes little to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and ranks 135th among all global emitters of carbon on a per capita basis. In contrast, as reported by German watch Climate Risk Index (2017), it ranks seventh when it comes to vulnerability to adverse impacts of climate change, and has a 30.50 climate risk index (CRI).
Though Pakistan is an energy-deficient country, it mainly depends upon oil (petroleum products), natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), compressed natural gas (CNG), nuclear energy and renewable sources of energies (like wind, solar, biomass, waste) as the chief sources of energy production.
According to the study “Energy Security and renewable energy policy analysis of Pakistan” (2017), the demand-supply gap in Pakistan’s energy sector is increasing mainly due to the high population growth rate (currently estimated to be around 2%). Whereas the demand for energy is increasing exponentially, the supply is growing at snail’s pace.
As was reported, Chinese companies are investing about $35 billion in power projects which will generate about 12,134 MW of electricity under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. Relevantly enough, in 2016, a report stated that “Pakistan’s current energy generating capacity is 24,830 MW, though the country currently faces energy shortfalls of over 4,500MW on a regular basis with routine power cuts of up to 5 hours per day, which has shed an estimated 2-2.5% off its annual GDP.”
Being a signatory to the Paris Agreement as well as participating in the international climate policy regime, Pakistan is obligated to achieve stabilisation of GHGs in the atmosphere. It must prove that it promotes green and clean energy instead of the other non-environment friendly options.
Renewable sources of energy (solar, wind, biomass and hydro) are clean and have a much lower environmental impact than conventional high-cost energy production technologies. Furthermore, clean renewable energy could enable Pakistan to achieve sustainable development while combating climate change as well. More importantly, it will also help us get rid of our over-dependence on oil, while strengthening Pakistan’s economy and defence capability.
Because it is an agrarian country, Pakistan has enormous potential for harnessing clean energy – thereby increasing its share in low carbon emissions. There are unlimited opportunities in the renewable energy sector. Solar energy is lavishly obtainable in most areas of the country. In the villages, every family has sufﬁcient livestock to produce sufficient animal waste and this can be used for the making of biogas. In these areas, the animal waste is usually burned for domestic purposes like cooking food. Instead, this waste can be used for producing biogas at the domestic level by setting up small rural biogas plants.
Wind is another source of renewable energy source that can be used to overcome Pakistan’s energy crisis. The country has a nearly 1000-kilometre long coastline in the south. The mountains in the north are also excellent sites for harnessing wind energy. Logically speaking, the wind corridor in the coastal belt of Sindh should be an ideal and obvious choice because of the high wind speed in the region. On the other hand, the northern part of the country has abundant potential hydel power resources. Numerous sites in the high terrain have natural waterfalls that can be harnessed.
In the arena of climate change, Pakistan has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons – and its investment in coal and fossil fuel dependent energy sources should start ringing alarm bells.
Pakistan wants to become the 25th largest economy in the world. Its ‘Vision 2025‘, which is an economic road map, aims to achieve this through “human resource development, regional connectivity, knowledge economy, inclusive growth and shared prosperity.”
In this context, it is worth mentioning that according to a World Bank report, Pakistan has already been facing severe air pollution since over a decade. The report goes on to state that 22,600 deaths in 2005 were caused directly or indirectly by air pollution.
Pakistan really needs a clean energy revolution! As Ban-Ki Moon rightly said, “This is essential for minimizing climate risks, for reducing poverty and improving global health, for empowering women and meeting the Millennium Development Goals, for global economic growth, peace and security, and the health of the planet.”
Pakistan’s government must consider clean energies rather than encouraging ‘killer energies’. If it does not consider these options, Pakistan may well fail to achieve the Paris Agreement goals!