Pakistan has recently unveiled its strategic energy conservation plan with the aim of reducing its reliance on imported fuel and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. The plan, developed by the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (NEECA) under the Ministry of Energy, is a response to the country’s growing concern over rising fuel bills, inflation, and the threat of economic collapse.
This article delves into Pakistan’s energy conservation policy, its objectives, challenges in implementation, and the need to transition to renewable energy sources.
The Strategic Energy Conservation Plan:
The Strategic Plan, devised by NEECA and approved by senior ministers in December 2022, encompasses several objectives. One primary goal is to curb the expenditure of Pakistan’s depleting foreign exchange reserves on imported fuel.
The plan also aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 35 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCo2e), presenting a crucial step towards addressing climate change and achieving sustainability.
In the period between July 2021 and April 2022, the country’s oil import bill skyrocketed by 95.9%, reaching USD 17.03 billion compared to USD 8.69 billion in the previous year.
Pakistan’s Rising Fuel Bills:
Pakistan’s government is increasingly concerned about the mounting costs of imported fuel. In the period between July 2021 and April 2022, the country’s oil import bill skyrocketed by 95.9%, reaching USD 17.03 billion compared to USD 8.69 billion in the previous year.
This surge was attributed to higher global oil prices and the depreciation of the Pakistani rupee, causing economic strain and widening the trade deficit. In light of this situation, the energy conservation plan emerges as a strategic solution to alleviate financial pressure.
Implementation Challenges and Market Resistance:
While the government has set a 1 July deadline for the early closure of markets, challenges in implementing the plan persist. The lack of clear deadlines and enforcement actions has impeded progress.
Market resistance also arises from the inconveniences caused by changes in operating hours, particularly in commercial markets that traditionally remain open late into the evening.
Overcoming these challenges requires a careful analysis of the current political economy and social circumstances, as noted by Sardar Mohazzam, the managing director of NEECA.
Although the plan sets a target of saving 3 million tonnes of oil equivalent by 2025, experts express doubts about achieving these goals within the given timeframe.
Criticism and Long-Term Sustainability:
The energy conservation plan has faced criticism for being reactive rather than proactive. Although the plan sets a target of saving 3 million tonnes of oil equivalent by 2025, experts express doubts about achieving these goals within the given timeframe.
Researchers argue that the plan should not only focus on behavioral change but also prioritize efficient electricity generation. Renewable energy sources, such as solar power, offer a viable alternative and are cost-effective compared to other forms of electricity produced in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s energy conservation plan marks a significant step in addressing the country’s escalating fuel costs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and securing a sustainable energy future.
While challenges in implementation and market resistance persist, the government’s commitment to this policy is evident.
Achieving the plan’s objectives will require comprehensive efforts, including behavioral change campaigns and a greater focus on efficient electricity generation from renewable sources. By embracing these measures, Pakistan can curb its reliance on fossil fuels and make significant strides towards a greener and economically stable future.