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Archive for February, 2011

We Can’t Drink Tar Sands Oil‏

We know that tar sands oil is the dirtiest fuel in the world, and that tar sands projects create toxic lakes filled with cancer causing heavy metals and neurotoxins.1 We also know that the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would cross pristine land in six states and put almost 30 percent of our country’s agricultural water at risk of contamination.2

But a new report reaffirms that the corrosive nature of tar sands oil will increase risk of spills to a degree not seen in conventional oil pipelines.

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper and help us spread the word about the dangers posed by new tar sands pipelines.

The Sierra Club, in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation, and Pipeline Safety Trust, is releasing a report this week that shows transporting tar sands oil is much more dangerous than transporting traditional oil.3

Why? Because tar sands oil is more corrosive than traditional crude oil, and its thicker nature means increased heat and pressure are needed to force it through a pipe, making ruptures and spills more likely.

We cannot allow regulators to treat tar sands oil the same as regular crude oil — write a letter to the editor today.

Despite the new risks posed by tar sands crude, American regulators have not created specific safeguards to protect communities along pipeline routes from spills and contamination.

Before we agree to transport tar sands oil across the Midwest, we need to make sure it’s not going to destroy our water and farmland.

The American people deserve a voice before new tar sands pipelines are approved — write a letter and make your voice heard.

From Sarah Hodgdon
Sierra Club Conservation Director

[1] Benjamin J. Wakefield. The Environmental Integrity Project. “Feeding U.S. Refinery Expansions with Dirty Fuel.” June 2008. Web. 8 July 2010.

[2] Dennehy, K.F. “High Plains regional ground-water study: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-091-00.” USGS. 2000 Web. 26 Oct. 2010 .

[3] Anthony Swift, Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Elizabeth Shope, and Natural Resources Defense Council. Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, Pipeline Safety Trust, and Sierra Club. “Tar Sands Pipelines Safety Risks.” Feb. 2011.

Energy Security and Climate Change: Pakistan

Date: Thursday, February 17th, 2011
Time: 10:00-02:00pm
Venue: Marriot Hotel, Islamabad

Ms Javeriya Hasan
Research Associate, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), (Consumer Network and NEPRA)
Mr Arshad H Abbasi
Advisor Water and Energy, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), (Energy Governance in Pakistan)
Mr Shakeel Ahmed Ramay
Head, Climate Change Study Centre, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
(Renewable Energy Resources in Pakistan)

Concept Note
A spectrum of landscapes marks the geography of Pakistan; with the mountains and glaciers of the north to the coastal belt in the south and a host of hills, plateaus, forests and deserts in between. Despite lying in a temperate zone, the unique geography of Pakistan ensures that extremities of temperature are experienced in different locations across the country. Encompassing a land mass of 880,940 km2, Pakistan also geographically overlaps the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates.

Pakistan’s unique geographical position has made it especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change which include glacier melt, sea level rise, increased frequency and intensity of natural hazards, changes in rainfall patterns, droughts, floods, and increased frequency of extreme weather conditions. These vulnerabilities will only be exacerbated by the current social, economic and political schemes operating in the country. With the sixth largest population in the world, most of which still under the poverty line, unstable government structures and institutions, military conflicts, worsening fiscal crisis, rampant food insecurity and a deepening energy crisis, Pakistan is becoming increasingly susceptible to the impacts of climate change. Its geographical location and its status as a state marred with the crisis of underdevelopment makes climate change in Pakistan a pertinent concern. Inaction in the face of climate change is not an option, as the recent floods in Pakistan have made the urgency and necessity of a response to climate change clearly evident.

The concept of mitigation within the discourse of climate change refers to the set of actions taken to eliminate or substantially reduce the long term hazards associated with climate change. As the main cause of climate change is identified as the emission of greenhouse gases, mitigation efforts are focused on a reduction of the sources of greenhouse emissions. The major contributors to climate change are the developed nations whose past emissions have resulted in the rise of average global temperature. In an attempt to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the future, developing countries today must reconsider employing the same strategies of economic growth characteristic of their developed counterparts. Failure to do so would have potentially catastrophic impacts as increased emissions cannot be sustained by the ecosystem.

The rising demand for energy in the developing world comes from the high population growths and ambitious developmental programs that attempt to curb the widespread poverty in these areas. Provision of energy becomes the prerequisite for economic development and as developing countries strive to industrialize, they resort to the cheapest and most readily available sources of energy. As the growing energy sector in the developing world would eventually contribute more to the greenhouse gas emissions than the current biggest emitters, their energy sectors cannot be immune from mitigation policies. The 450[1] scenario outlined in the World Energy Report 2009, which seeks to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at 450ppm, reiterates the recognition of common but differentiated responsibilities requiring each region in the world to implement mitigation policies.

While Pakistan’s emissions contribute a mere 0.8 of the global GHG emissions, the number is projected to rise in the coming decade owing to the country’s burgeoning population and growing energy needs to fuel its development plans. Pakistan must embark on a comprehensive and efficient mitigation strategy not only as a responsible state within the global arena committed to emission reduction, but also because it would be much easier and economically feasible to make the transition to a low carbon economy now rather than later. Thus it is imperative that efforts aimed at sustainable development in the country incorporate the goals of emission reduction.

As the energy sector is the primary contributor to GHG emissions in the country, it is essential that mitigation strategies are aimed at reforms within this sector. For Pakistan, this presents a host of opportunities. The vast potential of alternate energy in the country has not yet been exploited though efforts are being made in this direction. Increased use of alternate energy does not only coincide with mitigation of emissions in the country but also serves as a long term strategy for achieving energy security.

Pakistan is an energy deficit country, relying heavily on imported oil to meet its energy needs. In recent times the energy crisis has reached alarming heights; Power outages have become a routine phenomenon and are gravely impacting economic development in the country. While there is no prospect for Pakistan to reach self sufficiency in hydrocarbons, the exploitation of renewable energy to counter the current energy crisis presents itself as a sustainable option. Cheap and reliable sources of energy are imperative to push the country on a path of development; exploitation of indigenous renewable sources of energy is likely to serve this end.

Reliance on traditional fossil fuels is not a sustainable option for Pakistan, not only because it would contribute heavily to growing emissions but also because the limited reserves within the country have prompted oil imports and rapid depletion of indigenous gas reserves. This has put a financial strain on the economy and made the energy sector extremely vulnerable to the unreliable global supply of fossil fuels. The energy sector in Pakistan needs to be restructured to be made more reliable and secure and a shifted reliance on the vast supply of indigenous alternate sources of energy presents itself as a viable step in this regard.

It is important to recognize that exploitation of alternate energy resources does not only constitute as an essential and urgent response to climate change but also satisfies Pakistan’s long term goals of energy sufficiency and sustainable development.

Consumer Network and NEPRA
Pakistan is currently grappled by a severe energy crisis that has spearheaded significant socio-economic repercussions. An inability to install sufficient power generation capacity in addition to a heavy reliance on costly furnace oil imports has contributed immensely to the climax of the crisis. This has come at a time when Pakistan is already plagued with many other important woes such as the menaces of poverty, illiteracy and terrorism. The energy shortages and escalating cost expenditures in meeting needs has necessitated that power sector governance is revisited; rather analyzed critically for apparent pitfalls that have led to the severe situation the country is facing today.

One of the institutions that figures prominently in the equation is Pakistan’s National Electricity Regulation Power Authority (NEPRA), whose mandate is basically to promote principles of openness, transparency, accountability and competition in the power sector. It grants licenses to generation, transmission and distribution companies and also prescribes standards for this purpose in order to ensure that the consumer is provided with a safe, efficient and reliable supply of electricity. Unfortunately, it has been observed that the performance of NEPRA, has very much deviated from its mandate and has not been in line with the vision with which it was created.

Consumers, particularly the domestic consumers, don’t matter much as a priority in its decision making processes. NEPRA organizes public hearings on tariffs, licenses and fuel adjustments and these have reduced to mere cosmetic exercises, whereby those in authority only mark it against a checklist of items. There is no concerted effort to include the public proactively, in fact, the entire regulatory environment is convoluted and complex for any individual to fully comprehend the nitty gritty involved in electricity regulation.

The seminar on ‘Consumer Participation in Electricity Regulation’ would help bring together academics, professionals and concerned civil society in brainstorming on ways the vacuum of consumer participation can be overcome. The aim is to create a network of likeminded individuals who can contribute in generating awareness among the public about the issue of electricity governance, which they are key stakeholders of.


Faisal Nadeem Gorchani
Sadia Sharif
Policy Advocacy and Outreach Policy Advocacy and Outreach
Sustainable Development Policy Institute
38, Old Embassy Road
(Atta Turk Avenue), G-6/3,
Ph: 051-2278134-6, Ext: 113
Fax: 051-2278135
Cell: 0333-5592210

Rally against mangroves cutting

KARACHI, Feb 9: Activists of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) on Wednesday marched from the ICI traffic intersection on Mauripur Road in protest against the cutting of mangroves forests for commercial purposes and demanded an immediate action against elements involved in such illegal activities in Kakapir and Shamspir.

The protesters, led by PFF leaders, after passing through I.I. Chundrigar Road, staged a sit-in in front of the Sindh Assembly where they had a meeting with Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza outside the building.

According to a PFF press release, she assured the PFF leaders of early resolution of their problems, which also included taking action against police officials involved in the mangroves cutting.

Earlier, the protesters also staged a sit-in in front of the Central Police Officer to draw the attention of the authorities to take action against the police, which they said were patronising illegal cutting of mangroves forests.

PFF chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah said they had already warned the authorities that the citizens of the mega city were under threats as an organised mafia were destroying mangroves and using the land for commercial ventures, putting the people of Karachi at the mercy of cyclones and tsunamis.

The marchers also staged a brief sit-in outside the Karachi Port Trust building, demanding the officials concerned to play their due role to safeguard the coastal area, initiate development projects and take legal action against those destroying mangroves forests.

Sachal Hall, Jamat Market, Ibahim Hyderi,
Bin Qasim Town, Karachi, Pakistan
Tel: +92-21-35092862-35090543-35090925
Fax: +92-021-35090940
Cell:+92-333-217 5243

A hydropower project in Swat, Urgent Action Required

Town of Bahrain and Daral River in Swat Valley

I am writing to you on behalf of the community of Bahrain and the
Environment Protection Network (EPN), coalition of six NGOs in Swat
Kohistan (in the Swat district).

Bahrain is a tourist destination in the upper naturally beautiful Swat
Valley. Most of the income here is earned by tourism which is
dependent upon the natural beauty enhanced by a small river, Daral,
which falls into the mighty Swat river in Bahrain town. Bahrain is also a business and cultural hub of the Torwali community living in the Valley beyond Madyan up to Kalam.

Almost a decade back a feasibility report about the construction of a
hydropower project (Dara Khawr Hydropower Project) was prepared by the Sarhad Hydropower Development Organization (SHYDO) for the Asian
Development Bank. The proposed project is of about 50 MW. The
feasibility report says that the Daral River will be diverted to a tunnel about 6 KM above in the Daral Valley above Bahrain town. The feasibility was carried out excluding and ignoring the people of

Diversion of the Daral River means devastation of the beauty,
livelihood, agriculture and environment of Bahrain town, about 20,000

In 2010, the representatives of SHYDO came to Bahrain in order to
commence the construction work on the project but the community of
Bahrain reacted and opposed the construction as it is. Almost a year
of discussion between the community, EPN, the local administration and
SHYDO was passed without any results. The SHYDO could not satisfy the people and the EPN—Environment Protection Network.

Being a bureaucratic organization SHYDO is utterly inattentive to the
concerns of the people. It has been using various tactics of carrot
and stick to the marginalized and ignorant people in order to report
well to ADB. The EPN has also carried the concerns to the ADB which
was very positive but it seems that the SHYDO was misleading it
because SHYDO has paid touts in the community who try to misguide the local community by announcing ghost benefits.

After the floods in July 2010, the people of the area faced lots of
problems of infrastructure, livelihood, agriculture and shelters.
While people were thus engrossed in these emergencies SHYDO did not
give up its malicious tactics and tried to convince some of the people
who live in the peripheries. Now SHYDO is again trying to woo and threaten the people with the help of its paid touts. It is still pursuing its vicious objective in the area.

EPN is concerned if SHYDO does not give up its covert war with the
environment and people of the area there will be problems of serious
consequences which can create issues of law and order.

It is also worth noting that SHYDO has not conducted an EIA, Environment Impacts Assessment. It only relies on a feasibility

The community of Bahrain demands the government, civil society,
environmentalists, humanitarian and rights organizations to kindly
come forward and protect the marginalized community from environmental hazards, depletion of income resources and conflicts.

Sincerely Yours,
Zubair Torwali
Environment Protection Network (EPN)
Executive Director,
Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT)
Bahrain, Swat, KP Pakistan.
Cell: +92 305 9078 944

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