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Cement sector single largest source of CO2 emission in Pakistan

By Our Correspondent
August 01, 2021

KARACHI: Pakistan’s cement industry is the single largest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission, a highly hazardous gas, whereas various elements of the country's energy sector are responsible for 90 percent of these discharges, an international study revealed.

The study, prepared by an independent European environmental think tank, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), also shows that CO2 emissions from the consumption of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal in Pakistan have more than doubled in the last two decades.

These findings were disclosed in a virtual study launch organised jointly by CREA and Alliance for Climate Justice and Clean Energy (ACJCE) on Friday. Speakers for the virtual launch included local and international industry experts.

Speaking at the launch, Lauri Myllyvirta, Lead Analyst at CREA and one of the authors of the study, shared, “Pakistan's CO2 emissions per capita remain low; however, energy-related emissions have doubled over the past two decades”.

Myllyvirta said the power sector was responsible for over one quarter of the total emissions, while fossil fuels were responsible for 2/3 of power generation.

“This share has remained constant over the past decade, which indicates that there is little progress in moving towards clean power generation.” Myllyvirta further said industrial sector, cement industries in particular, was the largest contributor of carbon emissions and was responsible for 1/3 increase over the past decade.

Independent Analyst Dawar Butt pointed out Pakistan had committed to shift 30 percent to electric vehicles and produce 60 percent of power from renewables by 2030.

However, he added, fuel use trends and government incentives portrayed a different picture. According to Butt, cement industry, which is leading the construction industry lobbying for lower taxes and amnesties, has so far not been studied in detail.

He further said the current analysis so far limited itself to CO2 emissions and urged that a more detailed assessment needed to be done to account for the massive pollution costs that Pakistan was paying in terms of public health.

Zain Moulvi, Associate at Alternative Law Collective, spoke at length about the need to bring strategies to manage the damaging environmental impacts caused by the ever-increasing carbon emissions.

He said these strategies must have an immediate upgrade of environmental quality standards and monitoring procedures, both of which were out of sync with the best global practices.

Dr Sanval Nasim, Assistant Professor of Economics at Lahore University of Management Sciences, said air pollution was often conflated with climate change.

“Although these issues overlap to some extent, they differ enough to warrant separate policies.”

Dr Nasim added that in cities such as Lahore, vehicles emit PM2.5, an egregious pollutant, in comparison to industries and power plants; however, the power sector held the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions, the source of climate change.

“As climate change action takes a foothold, policymakers can consider incentive-based approaches such as emission charges and carbon emission trading as viable alternatives to mitigate greenhouse gases,” Dr Nasim said.