ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Prof Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday said that Pakistan and India need to cooperate in different sectors particular energy.

He said this while chairing the third day of the 29th Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Pakistan Society of Development Economists (PSDE).

Commenting on the energy and climate change, Ahsan Iqbal said that we have wind on the coastal areas and abundance of sun but we are still not able to produce solar and wind energy. Emphasizing the importance of South Asian cooperation, he said that South Asian countries will be the drivers of growth and energy is imperative to boost growth. Therefore, South Asian countries will be the biggest consumers of energy and clean energy is important to protect the climate. While explaining the importance of conservation, he said that energy conservation brings human revolution. He further added that, according to Islam, we should eat and drink but should not waste. Thus, we should follow the teachings of Quran. Every religion, he accentuated, tells its followers to act as custodians of the resources they are blessed with, thus it is our duty to protect the natural resources available to us.

Dr R K Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Director of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, India, following Prof Ahsan Iqbal, said that air we breathe, water which flows through rivers are used by common people but no one takes the responsibility to take care of these resources. As a result we have damaged the environment and this is a tragedy of commons.

Talking about poverty, Dr Pachauri said that despite the fact that we have healthy growth, large numbers of people are living under abject poverty. Therefore, if we do not have sustainable growth we cannot have sustainable society.

Introducing the topic of climate change, he said it is the biggest threat we face that endanger the possibilities of sustainable development. Furthermore, he said that by 2025 the share of energy usage out of total usage in China and India will decline. On the other hand, in the entire south Asia the share will increase. Explaining the aftermath of BP oil-spill, Dr Pachauri said due to the problem of oil spill we are still facing several problems thus it will be very difficult to explore new areas/wells of oil. Thus, depletion of oil is apparent which will certainly raise the price of oil.

Emphasizing the mitigation efforts, the total cost of stringent mitigation will be less than 3 percent of GDP, which is not a high price to pay for saving lives. The future lies in the renewable energy sources. A significant increase in the deployment of renewable energies by 2030, 2050 and beyond is indicated in the majority of the 164 scenarios reviewed in SRREN. However, a transition to higher shares of renewable energies would imply increasing investments in technologies and infrastructure. Policies play a crucial role in accelerating the deployment of renewable energy technologies. Policies include regulations, financial incentives, public finance mechanisms and carbon pricing mechanisms.

Earlier in the day, a panel discussion was held on “Economy of Tomorrow”. The lead panellist was Dr Hafiz A Pasha, former Minister for Finance, while other panellists included Sakib Sherani, Dr Saba Gul Khattak and Dr Vaqar Ahmed of the SDPI. The panel discussion was chaired by VC, PIDE, Dr Asad Zaman. The panel discussion was held in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Pakistan. Dr Hafiz A Pasha, said that it seems that all of projections made in the “Economy of Tomorrow” study are wrong because according to the Government, the GDP growth rate has suddenly gone up from 3 to 5% and will go to 7% by the end of the current fiscal year, rupee has appreciated from Rs.110 to Rs.104 and the government has passed the first test of IMF. Dr Pasha said that perspective of the study (Economy for Tomorrow) is not more than 3-5 years and focusses on three to four areas. He further said that our economic performance has not been determined by economic factors as much as by non-economic factors. In the last decade or so, war on terror, worsening of general law and order situation, insurgency in Baluchistan (Baloch economic growth shows -2% per growth rate for the last decade), rise in sectarian violence - all four provinces, for different reasons, are in challenging position.

Sakib Sherani said that in case of Pakistan very few people realize that for Pakistan economy of tomorrow will be economy of scarcity of fiscal resources, scarcity of institutional framework and governance, scarcity of human resources, and scarcity of available land. Amongst these scarcities, the biggest scarcity is of governance and institutions and we have to build strong institutional and governance framework to handle it. The headline growth number in Pakistan is not the end objective in itself, the quality of growth is also important.

Dr Saba Gul Khattak, commenting on the gender dimension of the economy for tomorrow, said that people feel that inclusion of women will result in growth in economy. The women should have equal rights and right for economic empowerment to the basic right of women. She said that the economy of tomorrow is linked not only to economy of today but also to the paradigm of today.

We stay in the same paradigm but expect to achieve goals that cannot be allowed without paradigm shift. The shift should have multidisciplinary approach. First of all, we need to address systematic discrimination against women that leads to systematic misery in which they are living.

Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Deputy Executive Director, SDPI, said that all is not bad in Pakistan and there are recent pieces of good news for Pakistan, such as awarding of Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+) to Pakistan. He also highlighted that Pakistan is now producing quarterly National Income Accounts. He said that resilience and sustainability matter. He said that circular debt is back. This tells us that no matter how much we add to our national grid, we are dealing with consumers who do not want to pay, who are engaged in theft and who call for subsidy even by printing new money. There is no escape from structural changes.

Dr Ahmed said that deteriorating environment leads to deterioration of human and physical capital. We have failed to take this into account at policy level. Climate change makes poor more vulnerable and amongst them the women even more vulnerable. Pakistan has more glacial stock than China and India but Pakistan’s stock is melting more quickly than China and India. In Pakistan there is no Ministry of Climate Change, not even at the provincial level. Climate Change is too important a subject to be devolved, he added.