Clean Energy is Only Solution to Pakistan Staying Below 1.5°C
Pakistan is grappling with many other challenges, including smog, receding floods, rising temperature, melting glaciers, shifting rainfall patterns, heatwaves, droughts and the deep groundwater table. The contribution of Pakistan to global greenhouse gases emission (GHGE) is 0.43 percent, but it is among the world’s top ten highly climate-change vulnerable nations. Local environmentalist sees the issue as a bigger threat than energy and terrorism. In 2015, Paris-Agreement, 195 countries signed an agreement to combat further climate-change by keeping global warming to below 2-degree and efforts to stay below to 1.5-degree above pre-industrial, levels. Together with Pakistan and China 141 nations took responsibility for overcome 82% of their GHGE, and have endorsed the agreement-2015. China world’s 2nd largest economy and biggest coal consumer, domestically, China shows significant decreases in coal-power consumption since December 2015 till yet. Meanwhile, China set itself Pakistan’s partner in emerging the future coal energy power projects.
Recently, Pakistan has an installed five coal power plants to produce electricity generation capacity of 25,100 MW in 2017-18 to over the energy shortage. Previously our country has worn out its gas and coal reserves. Pakistan has the potential to meet these energy crises through the transition to 100% renewable clean energy and stay below the 1.5° C temperature (Paris Agreement-2015). The progress of alternatives does not possible immediately, but Pakistan will have to rely upon using coal has environmental issues like the rising in temperature above 2° C, using shale-gas also has serious environmental issues. Pakistan Meteorological station clearly stated that the smog generally contains toxic GHGE and atmospheric pollution coming from coal-based industries and power plants in neighboring Indian-Punjab. Just visualize this picture, what will GHGE level to the regional climate and rise in temperature, at what time Pakistan will begin mining billions of tons of coal as fuel. Pakistan has planned to start five new coal-power projects in 2018. No doubt, that the coal that power-driven has also triggered the regional and global rise in temperature.
Progress and development is the basic right of every country and no country will probably to compromise on its growth and development, but growth needs sufficient energy. As an alternative to using coal, oil and gas Pakistan could take advance initiative with renewables energy solutions particularly solar and wind energy. The maximum territory of Pakistan is under arid or semi-arid, a very ideal for installation of solar energy power systems with more than the desirable number of sunny days/year. Average areas of Pakistan have the potential of 3000-3500 sunshine-hours/year and 5-7 kWh/m2 energy potential of solar irradiance (Saleem et al., 2015).
Energy production by renewable energy solutions can be utilized within nearby territories to ensure reduction of transmission losses and making it climate-change friendly to staying temperature below 1.5 degrees to meet Paris-Agreement 2015. Renewable energy costs the same price and cheaper than energy produced by fossil fuel in the list of 30 developing to developed countries (A.D. Bank Report 2016-17). Pakistan needs now our focus on decision and policies to adoptive natural climate solutions, environment-friendly business models, and visionary leadership in partnerships for financial and technical decision-making level.
Now Pakistan is preparing general elections-2018 to elect the parliamentarian to legislate and policy formulation to direct future development. This is the time to convince future leadership to make national level promises to minimize our dependence on fossil fuels and start investing in renewable energy to decreasing GHG emissions in the long-term. Climate activists and researcher like us can create national level awareness to demand clean energy solutions to tackle climate change to limit global warming. Climate vulnerable communities should demand renewable energy solution through the power of their vote to all political parties to staying below 1.5°C on the top of their party agenda. CO2 emissions will need to become negative at the national and global level to meaningfully restoration of forests, watershed, grasslands and crops. Staying below 1.5°C is reachable if countries like Pakistan and China act in a quick and determined way that we need a fast reduction on GHGE by executing 100% renewable energy solutions.
It is still not too late to mitigate the global warming/GHGE and staying below 1.5°C needs social, political, financial, and serious actions by 2020. A speedy change is possible, but we must initiate now. The later we start the steeper and faster the transition will have to be completed. The 1.5°C goal leaves no space to delay action on de-carbonization.