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People-centric policy needed to fix design flaws, transition to clean energy

By Our Correspondent
October 01, 2022

KARACHI: Energy experts have called for a people-centric approach and change in policies to revamp the power sector for a just transition to clean energy and to resolve the flaws in our energy design.

Speaking at a multi-stakeholder dialogue, the experts shared consensus on a dynamic growth model for the future, integration of ecological and environmental considerations for energy planning and mainstreaming of climate justice at the national level.

The experts said that the way forward was framing climate justice by modifying the existing governance paradigm or making it anew, and transitioning towards clean energy while keeping vulnerable communities at the center of discussion. The event was organised by the Alliance for Climate Justice and Clean Energy (ACJCE), a coalition of civil society organisations working on energy transition in Pakistan.

Addressing the audience, MNA Dr Nafisa Shah said that the people were not benefitting from the fossil fuel-dependent energy policy of Pakistan. “Fossil fuel energy is not contributing to Pakistan’s development but instead is more of a liability,” she opined.

Referring to the recent flood in Pakistan, Shah said that majority of Sindh was still under water and people who were facing the brunt of such climate change-driven natural disasters were not contributors to climate change. She suggested mainstreaming climate justice through dialogues between the federation and provinces, redressal of flaws in governance paradigm and making people-centric and nature-centric energy policies.

Dr Irfan Yousuf, Advisor RE at National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), said false decision-making in the past has contributed to issues in the energy sector, but “we must now focus on the future”. Speaking about the recent floods, he said, “We need to prepare on what to do with the flood water and how to store it to prevent it from being wasted.”

Water expert Dr Hassan Abbas called for a people-centric approach to development. Emphasising that hydro was not a solution in current times when solar was taking off, he said., “Large-scale hydropower projects are expensive, cause land erosion due to silt blockage, and are also a reason behind civil and ethnic tensions between upstream and downstream communities on water resources allocation,” he added.

NA Zuberi, Senior Advisor CSAIL, called for overhauling of Pakistan’s complex energy sector. He said that too many institutions were handling the power sector business with a disintegrated approach. Zuberi urged for privatisation of distribution and transmission networks, retiring of inefficient and old power plants - mostly oil-based, along with several other reforms in the existing business model.

Aqeel Jaffri from Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) recommended the diversification of energy resources based on the National Electricity Policy, 2021. He also suggested properly functioning the forecasting systems, syncing of Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan and issuance of energy security mechanisms for the foreseeable future.

Other panellists of the consultative session included Shahid Hamid from WAPDA, Senator Rukhsana Zuberi, Halima Khan from Energy Update, and Samim Affan from CPPA-G.