How can we get rid of the consumption of fossil fuel for the production of energy?  This is a thought-provoking question not only for policy makers, practitioners and professionals from particular fields; it is the most important query for everyone who wants to save their environment, health and future of the upcoming generations. Together and apart, more or less, each one of us is responsible and contributing towards global warming by using fossil fuels as a primary resource of energy. Fossil fuels including coal, oil and natural gas are currently the main source of energy not only in Pakistan but in the whole world. They release carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is one of the major factors leading to global climate change. According to United Nations, global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by almost 50 percent since 1990. Fossil fuels are not only polluting our environment as well as they are non-renewable and finite resources. We are paying not only their explicit cost in the form of utility bills but a huge hidden cost being paid in the form of adverse impact on health and environmental pollution.

Though awareness raising campaigns are the milestone in highlighting the harmful effects of the fossil fuel industry on our atmosphere, policy makers and practitioners should keep in mind that formation and implementation of a detailed “transition framework” is needed in this regard. Without investment in the production of the energy from alternative resources (like solar, wind and tidal), goals cannot be achieved by discussions and documentations only. Secondly, there is a huge workforce engaged with the fossil fuel industry as employees. Their families are dependent on this polluting industry for their bread and butter. These employees need to be adjusted somewhere else to overcome the threat of unemployment. On the other hand, the new industry of clean energy would play a vital role in uplifting of our economy in terms of GDP growth by creating a number of investment and job opportunities.  “Transition framework” should cover each and every aspect of this transition at the macro as well as micro level. These options are indispensable to begin the transition away from the harmful fossil fuel industry. For instance, as oil is the primary source of fuel used for transportation in the world, only awareness raising campaigns would not serve the purpose until and unless it is coupled with the efforts like a well-maintained public transportation system, cycling and walking tracks and the production of solar vehicles.

Pakistan has already been suffering from climate-induced disasters like floods (South Punjab, Sindh and KPK) and droughts in Sindh. As a result, the trend of climate-induced migrations has emerged in these districts particularly after the devastating flood in 2010. Most experts are still cautioning against tying these disasters directly to the effects of greenhouse gases. Similarly, the phenomena of climate-induced migrations are not much noticed so far and have not been part of mainstream discourse in our country.

The Pakistan government has shown a strong commitment to address the climate change phenomena and play an active role in global efforts aiming to mitigate and adapt to climate change by signing the protocols and a number of conventions including the United Nations Framework Convention (UNFCCC) and PARIS Agreement. The Prime Minister of Pakistan has released Rs 2 billion for Green Pakistan to the Ministry of Climate Change in June this year. However, adopting a two-prong strategy by planting more trees and the preservation of forests on one hand and formulating of an action-oriented strategy for the most crucial aspects on the other i.e. forgoing the reliance on the fossil fuel industry for energy production is the need of hour. Otherwise, the Pakistan government would not be able to fulfil commitments to address climate change at the international and national level. 

We as a nation should think and act together at both the individual and collective levels to save us and our future generations from the adverse impacts of this big challenge.