The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has issued a damning report on the adverse environmental impact of coal-based power plants in the country. Not only will such projects substantially raise the threat of greenhouse gas emissions but also reverse measures to mitigate the deadly effects of climate change. The ADB evaluation may seem surprising, especially since the bank is one of the agencies funding the 600MW coal-based power plant in Jamshoro. It will however serve as a powerful reminder that Pakistan needs to adopt measures in its energy policy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. In addition, the evaluation of the power sector will help identify all the operational inefficiencies that contribute to climate change. Our energy challenges are far more complex -- encompassing the reliability of supply, share of clean energy and ensuring transparency in procurement and payments. It also means creating greater access to cheap electricity as well as guaranteeing efficiency and competitiveness.
The ADB has proposed support for the power sector by helping it draw up legal and regulatory frameworks, boosting governance structures, building capacity and providing infrastructure investment. In some instances, we have seen how foreign assistance has not always been in tune with the energy sector’s needs. To bring real change in the long term, international agencies must examine the needs of the sector and synchronise their efforts with those needs.
The country has already suffered greatly at the hands of climate change. Since 2010, when a superflood inundated nearly a fifth of the country, we have experienced heavy monsoon rains and extreme temperatures in many cities and towns. It is time to transition away from imported fossil fuels and focus on developing indigenous resources.
We should also be harnessing at least a quarter of the country’s vast hydropower potential to ease the power load and supplement those efforts with wind and solar technologies. With the cost of related technologies declining, Pakistan could use this opportunity to develop its vast indigenous renewable energy resource base.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2018.
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