Environmental Benefits of Pakistan's Energy Conservation Programme (ENERCON)

Economic Review, July 1993 | Go to article overview

Environmental Benefits of Pakistan's Energy Conservation Programme (ENERCON)


We are investing heavily in energy development when these precious resources could be used more effectively in such vital sectors as education and health. Energy conservation is our cheapest supply option, so the time to act is NOW.

Protection of our environment has become one of the most important global issues of our time. Unfortunately, it is mankind's most economically essential activkies which are causing dangerous and unprecedented alterations in the earth's climate. This is why energy conservation plays a major role in combatting environmental degradation by minimising the harmful effects of energy consumption.

By far the single most important source of greenhouse gases is the burning of petroleum, natural gas and coal, which releases massive quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The presence of C02 and other greenhouse gases is changing the way the atmosphere absorbs the suns' energy and threatening to upset our climate's delicate balance.

The link between environmental degradation and energy consumption has been established beyond doubt. Since industrybeganconsumingfossilfuelssome 200 years ago, annual fossil fuel emissions of carbon dioxide have risen from insignificant quantities in 1850 to almost 6,000 million tons of carbon today. As a resuftatmosphericconcentrationsofcarbon dioxide have risen to a level higher than any time in the past 100,000 years.

Over the past 200 years, most fossil fuel energy use has occurred in the industrialised countries of the North, and this is till the case today. For example, Pakistan, the eleventh largest nation was over 2 per cent of the world's population, is responsible for only 0.2 per cent of mankind's fossil fuel emissions of carbon dioxide, while the US is responsible for almost 25 per cent, China for around 10 per cent and Japan for around 5 per cent.

Clearly the major responsibility for taking the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions rests wfth the developed countries. However, the developing countries must also opt for energy conservation in order to protect their relatively less damaged environments and to ease the financial burden caused by their dependence on imported fossil fuels.

As Pakittan's economy continues to grow, our energy demands will continue to double every seven years. Although possessing large conservation resources. Pakistan's conventional energy resource base is limited. Domestic production, although increasing, is still not keeping pace with the economy growing at 6 per cent per year and a population increasing by 3 per cent annually.

Pakistan cannot afford to continue spending 2l percent of its foreign exchange earnings on imported oil and losing 2 per cent of its annual GDP due to load shedding necessitated by a 25 per cent gap between peak electricity demand and supply. Under the present circumstances, energy conservation is the cheapest, most readily available and most abundant energy supply option which has the added advantage of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Pakistan's conservation resource is calculated to be equalin size to the country's oil resource. A comprehensive national level energy conservation effort could increase available energy supplies by 15-25 per cent in a relatively short time a cost ranging between 1/4 and 1/50 of current energy prices.

Unfortunately, even though energy efficiency often pays for itself, economic distortions and hard-to-break habits too often get in the way. To convince government, industry, business and individual consumers to take the necessary steps, the National Energy Conservation Centre (ENERCON) was established in 1986 to plan, demonstrate and execute a comprehensive nationwide energy conservation programme.

In the six years the ENERCON has been operating, it has made outstanding progress in demonstrating the economic and environmental benefits of energy conservation to industrial, agricuftural, commercial and domestic consumers. …

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