Pakistan is currently in the middle of several developments, which include the work done for CPEC, as well as the work that is expected to be carried out once the PTI takes control of the government. Keeping this in mind, the people in charge need to re-think their priorities, especially for the energy sector, as it needs a complete overhaul, particularly with our increasing reliance on dirty fuels.The people of Pakistan have been facing power cuts during the summer because of an electricity gap of 500 Megawatts, and the issue is becoming even more serious in the face of rising energy demands by an ever increasing population. This, coupled with the results of a recent survey that highlighted the country’s potential to produce 23000 MW of electricity, has captivated policy makers, who are striving to fill in the gaps of electricity generation by resorting to short term, and inexpensive fuel sources like coal and Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG). The last government of the PML-N, in their desperation to fulfil its promises from the 2013 elections, made efforts to fill the power gap by investing in fuels that could produce results in a short period of time. This had a significant impact on the national energy mix, by increasing the share of fossil fuels being used. According to estimates, 10,000 MW have been added to the national grid since 2013, yet around two-thirds of this electricity was produced using (RLNG) and the rest from imported coal.An expert team, commissioned by the Asian Development Bank to appraise the power sector of Pakistan, has already warned of the detrimental effect that the use of such fossil fuels for electricity generation can cause on the environment. The ADP report clearly highlights the consequences of such actions on climate change and environmental degradation, and also predicts that these effects might amplify as time goes on. While the rest of the world is focusing on reducing their reliance on coal and other harmful sources of fuel for power generation, resulting in the Paris Agreement, and a pledge to limit global temperature rise by two degrees, Pakistan is instead celebrating its many power projects planned within the scope of CPEC. This is despite the fact that that most of these power units will be based on coal fuel, increasingly known as “dirty fuel”, as its combustion leads to CO2 emissions, which are a major cause behind global warming. CO2 is part of greenhouse gases, along with other pollutants like Oxides of Nitrogen and Sulphur.It is estimated that around 10000 Giga Watts of electricity will be produced and added to the national grid under CPEC schemes before 2019. Major portion of this will come from burning of coal, in addition to small portions from hydropower and solar and wind-based projects. The estimated 175 billion tons of coal reserves discovered in Thar in 1992 are already being tapped for this purpose. On March 7 this year, the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) signed agreements for producing 990 MW electricity using coal coming from Thar Block II. The coal from Thar Block II will be supplied by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), which is a joint venture of the Sindh Government and Engro Powergen Ltd. The last government of the PML-N, in their desperation to fulfil its promises from the 2013 elections, made efforts to fill the power gap by investing in fuels that could produce results in a short period of time. Although 10,000 MW have been added to the national grid since 2013, it has been generated using ‘dirty fuels’Now, the purpose behind this discussion is not to deny that the need for electricity in Pakistan is dire, and this need is only going to grow in the future. Instead, the purpose is to determine what methods we are going to use to add to our power generation capability, and the impact these methods might have on our environment and climate change in general. While it is encouraging that people have started to raise their voices against the use of dirty fossil fuels in power generation, it is alarming that our politicians and policy makers either do not seem to be aware of this concerning scenario, or have been ignoring the signs on purpose, in order to deliver on the flawed promises they made during their election campaigns. Evidence of this can be found by reviewing the political manifestos presented in the recent elections by all major political parties, none of which contain any words related to clean and sustainable energy.There are many who support coal-based power generation in Pakistan, citing examples of India, China and US where coal is burned for electricity production. However, once again, we ignore the fact that all three nations have been using this method for many years, and are rectifying their past mistakes by using renewable energy sources now. Why should we follow their example when we already know the great cost of using dirty fuels on our environment? When it comes to the environment, decisions should not be made based on financial factors, but on any irreversible environmental impact those decisions might have. As an example, while hydropower electricity plants can be very costly, their impact on the environment is relatively minimal.After the 2018 General Elections had ended, the PTI emerged as the victorious party, and are set to form the next government. This is encouraging, as the PTI are known to be one of the few political parties in Pakistan that have an environmental plan for the future, as evidenced by their One Billion Tree Tsunami Project in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. This project involves the planting of 10 billion trees, and is a great start for sustainable environmental policies. Now let’s hope they can turn their focus on initiating projects for clean, renewable and sustainable energy production in the country and reduce the use of dirty fuels completely, from every sector of the economy.The writer is an environmental professional from Islamabad and associated with a number of national and international agencies working for environment and development in PakistanPublished in Daily Times, August 14th 2018.