Adding to carbon emission

In Paris, there is an epic struggle to persuade the nations of the world to work together to battle climate change


Editorial December 06, 2015
PHOTO: PUBLICITY

In Paris, there is an epic struggle to persuade the nations of the world to work together to battle climate change, and in particular to keep global warming at or below the two degrees that is the tipping point as far as potential global catastrophe is concerned. In New Delhi, as of December 7, private cars will be regulated by a system based on number plates — ‘odd’ and ‘even’ days — in an attempt to reduce pollution. Beijing has an appalling problem with smog and poor air quality — and anywhere one may care to look in the developing world where coal-fired power stations are proliferating, there is a significant pollution and carbon emission problem. Pakistan has just decided to add to that, for good or ill. Aside from what coal-fired power may do in terms of expanding the carbon footprint, the long-term health implications, in a country with notoriously poor public health services, almost beggars belief.

As the rest of the world moves towards cleaner and renewable energy generation, Pakistan (as well as India) is looking towards an energy generation future powered by coal. Thus far, the developments of sources powered by renewables have been small in Pakistan, in part because of the capital expenditure to get renewable sources up and running economically and efficiently. Pakistan sits on coal, much of it of poor quality, and it remains the cheapest source of power generation everywhere. The country derives two-thirds of its energy needs from oil and gas, much of it imported and subject to price fluctuations. Local coal provides price consistency, and the argument that in real terms, the increase in our contribution to global carbon emissions is almost negligible is a powerful driver. Pakistan has a 25-member team at the Paris Climate Summit, but as with other developing nations, local imperatives may outweigh global goals. The aim is to add 8,100 megawatts of coal power to the system, roughly 40 per cent of generation capacity. Delhi and Beijing are literally choking on the cost of coal-powered development, and Pakistan may find itself coughing in their wake.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th,  2015.

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COMMENTS (1)

John B | 5 years ago | Reply The product of combustion is CO2 and water, whether it is coal or oil or natural gas. Not all coal plants spew particulate pollutants that contribute to smog. There are better technologies to eliminate / or reduce particulate output from coal plants. What is the goal of Paris summit : reduce CO2 output ? Then, all nations should stop / cap the global carbonaceous fuel combustion. I do not see that happening since more and more hydrocarbon fuel is entering the market. One cannot honestly expect more hydrocarbon / carbonaceous fuel production in one hand and reduced CO2 out put on the other hand. It defies the science. The CO2 output in east or west, north or south will have the same cumulative global implication. Not all nations can have the luxury of geography for alternative sources of energy production and alternative energy sources in theory should reduce carbonaceous fuel production along with consumption. However, both production and consumption of carbonaceous fuel is ever increasing despite alternative energy uses. Since production cannot meet the demand, the net result is every increasing CO2 output since ever increasing all fossil fuel production is consumed despite concurrent use of alternative energy sources. The only issue is some countries will consume more fossil fuel while others will consume less of them, but the net output of CO2 will always be increasing in this planet in proportion to the production output. Are we to expect that we are going to stop / limit extracting fossil fuel from various sources such as shale oil extraction, deep sea drilling, coal for steel plants and so on? What is the true purpose of these global meetings. Limit the CO2 output ? The mega projects of fossil fuel extraction planned for next 100 years around the world and the theme of the meetings do not coincide scientifically and logically.
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