Japan may be all set to run one of its long-abandoned coal power plant on furnace oil, but it should not be construed as a permanent measure since Japan has pledged to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a commitment that, observers say, is expected to be met despite short term hiccups. Japan’s commitment comes alongside similar pledges by China and South Korea, whereas the UK has already unveiled its plan to achieve carbon neutrality, having produced 44 percent of its consumption through renewable measures last year. These are not ignorable trends, and Pakistan must join the bandwagon.
The most recent World Energy Outlook 2020 by International Energy Agency was clear in its concluding view that renewable energy, notable solar and wind, will grow the fastest in near future. The smart money agrees: Goldman Sachs recently said it expects renewables to be the biggest chunk of global energy investments in 2021.
Understandably there are naysayers, who consider such commitments and expectations merely as hopey changey affairs. They are the same set of people who didn’t expect much from renewables at the turn of this century. But consider this: the share of renewable energy sectors in global capital expenditure on greenfield FDI has risen from less than 1 percent at the start of this century to nearly 13 percent by 2020. Conversely, global capital flows in fossil fuel based greenfield FDI have eased from one-third to about 14 percent by 2020.
This clearly shows that there is green capital available elsewhere in the world, even if doesn’t exist in developing countries like Pakistan. Which is why, according to a joint survey by World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies and the World Bank, Investment Promotion Agencies (IPA) all over the world are increasingly wooing investments in renewables energy production and energy efficiency. About 68 percent of IPA want to specifically target renewable energy the most, according to the survey.
In light of these trends, the message for Pakistan’s environment champion PM Khan, and his cabinet is clear: prioritise renewable energy mandate for Board of Investment; strengthen Alternate Energy Development Board; sort out governance lacunae with Nepra and other related players; and support NEECA. These steps are not only important on moral grounds in terms of inter-generational justice but also because transition to clean energy production (both at on-grid and off-grid) must happen before the world penalizes dirty energy production and inefficient energy consumption. There is no reason to wait for the dirty energy crisis ten or fifteen years hence.