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ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a seminar on Wednesday, while stressing the need for de-carbonisation of the cement sector and other industries urged the government for strengthening of the regulatory and policy ecosystem coupled with innovative technologies to replace carbon-intensive cement.

Speaking at the event titled, "Charting the course of Decarbonisation Driver's on Pakistan's Cement Industry", jointly organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Policy Research Institute for Equitable Development (PRIED), they underlined the need for reliable and affordable alternate energy sources such as waste to energy to offset carbon emissions from cement supply chain.

Speaking at the session, Ahsan Anis, chief operating officer of Power Cement Limited apprised about the decarbonisation initiatives being taken by Power Cement including a FLSmidth plant with 7,700 tons/ day production capacity since 2020 to increase efficiency, investment in solar, wind, and waste-to-energy power generation for sustainable, clean and affordable energy supply.

He stressed that the country has immense energy generation potential from agriculture and general waste but ends up being dumped in landfills or burned due to weak segregation mechanisms at source, lack of awareness, technological backwardness and lack of political will and incentives for the private sector to encourage energy generation.

Joint Executive Director SDPI, speaking on the occasion, said that strengthening regulatory and policy support mechanisms to facilitate decarbonisation in not just cement but other sectors producing the construction materials, and industrial input.

Achieving this transformation necessitates coordination of stakeholders throughout the value chain to formulate an inclusive roadmap for potential pathways and strategic plans and policies, he added. The medium-term development framework emphasizes environmental sustainability and protection and provincial governments steering industrial decarbonisation action.

Highlighting the barriers hindering the cement sector’s decarbonisation, Dr Ankita Gangotra, Associate Industrial Innovation, Climate Program at the World Resources Institute emphasised on creating awareness about clinker substitution, and establishing performance standards to steer decarbonisation of cement sector. She urged for strengthening policies for the promotion of carbon capture and storage technologies among other novel solutions to attract investment and international financing opportunities.

Sunil Dahiya, energy analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) remarked that lack of clarity on long-term expansion pathways for decarbonisation hinders sustainable progress. He urged that governments must demonstrate political commitment by prioritising consumption of low-carbon, construction in PSDP infrastructure projects and aligning public procurement with responsible consumption principles.

Engr Ahad Nazir, head Centre for Private Sector Engagement, SDPI, called for backing policy recommendations with strong economic case, increasing consumer awareness to steer responsible consumption, encouraging responsible investments to strengthen the transition. Producers must lead by example by ensuring decarbonisation of their supply chains, he added.

Dr Fahim Khokhar from NUST emphasized on the role of academia-industry ties for decarbonisation and carbon capture technologies, diversifying supply-chain for low-carbon products and promoting agricultural waste-to-energy for cleaner air and emission reduction.

Saleha Qureshi, research associate at the SDPI said that under its clean energy transition programme, the SDPI is conducting a study on the "Decarbonisation potential in the cement sector of Pakistan." The study explores decarbonisation strategies for Pakistan's cement industry, including energy efficiency, fuel switching, clinker substitution, reintegration, and carbon capture and storage technologies.

Through engagement with cement industries, several challenges have been identified, such as cost-related issues with RDF and TDF, obstacles in manufacturing low-carbon cement, political and tariff uncertainties hindering renewable projects, lack of consumer demand and regulatory incentives, limited foreign investment and reliance on family businesses, power wheeling challenges, and absence of a viable business case. Aligning with NDC targets seems feasible, yet attaining a net-zero is a complex challenge for the cement sector.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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