PTI has been the first political party to pursue climate change as a priority in the country’s most pressing issues-a sneak peak of which was also experienced in Imran Khan’s recent speech at United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). He set forth a five-point agenda that entailed the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Programme after the success of a Billion Tree Tsunami of KP; the Electric Vehicle Policy; the Clean Green Index for cities; plastic bag ban; and Recharge Pakistan Programme for the use of flood water.
Pakistan’s share in global greenhouse emission is miniscule; however, working along this five-point agenda as well bringing changes at the very basic levels can bring significant progress to the climatic risks that the country faces whether in terms of floods, glaciers melting, heat waves or the winter smog.
What could be added to this list of programmes could be the government spearheading a drive for promoting renewables. Where planting trees have benefits of soaking up carbon dioxide, the benefit of adding renewable energy to the system is two-pronged: Not only does it diversify a country’s energy mix, it addresses the emission challenge in a much expansive way in a much shorter time.
The country has too many fossil fuel power plants to meet climate goals especially with new imported and indigenous coal power plants coming online. Setting up more PV plants (or wind turbines) is one of the best ways to fight climate change as they are not contaminating, and generate renewable energy.
Focusing on solar and wind energy to combat climate change is not impossible. Already, the Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan 2018-40 prepared by The National Transmission Dispatch Company (NTDC) and submitted for approval, follow the policy of reduced dependence on imported fuel by increasing the capacity of renewable and indigenous fuel-based plants. According to the plan, a total capacity of 6,000 MW and 7,000 MW would be coming from solar and wind power plants respectively, with the first block of 500 MW of wind and 400 MW solar power plants to be added in 2022, followed by 13 and 14 more blocks of wind and solar, respectively, till 2040. This will take the share of renewable energy in generation mix from existing 5 percent to16 percent till 2040.
The plan still in the approval stage consists of both committed and candidate projects. Not only will their completion and addition to the system will be needed to mainstream renewables in fighting climate change, off grid solutions like roof top and household solar panels set up will also go a long way and must be pursued to bring the much needed improvement.