During the recent summit on climate change in Paris Pakistan has made its case by claiming that it is among the countries worst hit by climate change citing growing heat, floods, melting of glaciers and others, one reason for global warming in my view is unscruplous bombing by the West in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria but third world is being blamed for it. Obviously this is right. Pakistan is a country that is already suffering from climate change and will be hit even more in the future. Just remember the rising temperatures last Ramzan in Sindh, water scarcity and others. Pakistan is fighting an energy crisis as well. There is a deficit of electricity and gas for private and industrial consumers that is making life difficult and retards economy. But what is the Pakistani solution to the problem? Instead of launching a massive energy conservation program by improving the transmission network, by substituting high-energy consumption machinery in industry and devices in private households by low consumption ones Pakistani government is doing nothing of that sort. The international trend is to substitute thermal power and the use of coal by renewable energy like wind, sun and hydel. What does Pakistan? It plans to expand the use of coal and even worse lignite for power production! Out of the ten plants new power plants based on coal planned, nine depend on imported coal. Half of them are located near Karachi the largest city of Pakistan. Can you imagine what will be the impact of air and water pollution on the population? Karachi buildings will become black just like once London was.

And even worse, Karachi enterprises are the ones who aim to kill us. Muhammad Ali Tabba, a director at Lucky Electric, which is building a coal-based 660 MW power plant argued like this: “Pakistan will continue to remain a marginal player even after all the coal plants come up,” he said. “Statistics speak for themselves,” he says. “Pakistan consumes around 4 million to 4.5 million tons of coal a year. In few years’ time this would increase to 26 million tons and not more. On the other hand, India is burning 500 to 600 million tons of coal and China uses over a billion tons.” What is he telling us? The argument seems to be ‘we are bad but others are worse’! ECMC’s CEO Shamsuddin Shaikh is reported to have said that Pakistan’s carbon foot print was already too low to warrant any concern. “Our country does not have any other option. We have to go with coal.” This is a plain lie. There are other options and companies opt for the cheapest option to make the most profit – that is why. And they seem to be able to do it in the absence of a clear-cut environmental policy of our government that would rather prevent such murderous plans instead of promoting them or let them be.

Pakistan has a long coast line and umpteen space and possibility for wind parks. 70% of our hydel resource water remains untapped. Pakistan has sun – sometimes more than is needed- for sun collectors. How come there is no alternative? Yes, these options need a higher investment and may be more time to implement but in this case the cheapest and fastest solutions is definitely not the best. Until the solar and wind option is ripe for implementation bridge with gas and oil. And start cutting transmission losses and energy theft ‘on war footing’! That will not only relieve resources but our climate as well.

ALI ASHRAF KHAN,

Karachi, December 10.