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Go Green Pakistan!

o Rabia Garib
25.08.2009 kl 17:32 |

Is it possible for companies to fulfill their obligations of being environmentally responsible and still remain afloat in a competitive environment? Do companies in developing countries like Pakistan have the opportunities and the budget to care about the effect their activities can have on the environment? These are just some of the questions that corporate entities face in our country, and the answers when sought out, tell us that there is indeed every possibility for companies to be Green in Pakistan.

 

Is it possible for companies to fulfill their obligations of being environmentally responsible and still remain afloat in a competitive environment? Do companies in developing countries like Pakistan have the opportunities and the budget to care about the effect their activities can have on the environment? These are just some of the questions that corporate entities face in our country, and the answers when sought out, tell us that there is indeed every possibility for companies to be Green in Pakistan.

Pakistan deposited its instruments of accession to the Kyoto Protocol in January 2005. An initiative to mitigate the impacts of climate change in a world increasingly facing the threats of global warming and a depleting ozone layer, the Kyoto Protocol is an agreement made by many countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) that came into force in February 2005.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was initiated under the Kyoto Protocol in an attempt to explore cost-effective options to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This mechanism allows industrialized countries to achieve part of their emission reduction commitments by conducting emission reducing projects abroad. By assisting developing countries to implement project activities that reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in return for generating Carbon Credits/Certified Emission Reduction (CERs), CDM allows developing countries to achieve the ultimate objective of sustainable development. The CERs, each equivalent to one ton of CO2, can be traded and sold by industrialized countries to meet a part of their emission reduction targets.

After entering the Kyoto Protocol agreement, Pakistan became eligible to benefit from CDM and a special cell was established in August 2005 for technical and policy support and implementation of CDM strategy under the Designated National Authority (DNA) of the Ministry of Environment.

A new company entered the scene to fill the gap of an effective CDM consulting service for local company's--Carbon Services Private Limited became Pakistan's first carbon consulting company. The company offered advice on GHG emission reduction credits for public and private sector companies along with offering them a range of solutions for optimizing the returns from projects that reduce carbon emissions. The consultants advise companies and public authorities on compliance with international, national and voluntary commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

Comprising a global team of carbon market specialists, the company guides and facilitates its clients to ultimately be able to sell their carbon credits in a profitable, efficient and cost effective manner in a network of experienced and high value adding carbon market partners.

Omer Malik of Carbon Services tells us that Pakistan is participating in efforts to reduce carbon emissions and that there are a few companies that are making the effort to limit GHG emissions and actually avail the benefits that come from this. He points out that implementing technologies to reduce the emissions in countries like Europe is far more expensive than it is in countries like Pakistan, India, China, Brazil.

Companies that are unable to reduce their emissions to the required level can buy Carbon Emission-reduction Certificates from companies who have developed some successful measure of reducing their carbon emissions.

These transactions can often take place through international networks. "Another way that industries can achieve the carbon emission reduction they have to make is to do it by buying certificates called Carbon Emission Reduction Certificates (CERs) which effectively come from other companies who have come up with some successful measure for reducing their carbon emissions," explains Malik. "These certificates can come from industrialized countries like France, Italy or other parts of Europe or Japan. Or, they could come from non-industrialized countries which are called 'Non-Annex 1' countries under Kyoto including countries like Pakistan, India, China, Brazil, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and all these developing countries."

But why would companies take the trouble of designing and implementing cleaner projects if it only involves additional costs for them, a common man would ask. True, there is the matter of a "green conscience" among companies who would like to be responsible members of the global community, but let's face it: idealism apart, there are only a few such companies who would bear additional costs just to avoid damage to the environment, when it involves no real benefit to them. For the larger majority, you have to provide them some incentives to encourage them to reduce carbon emissions.

That is exactly what initiatives like CDM under the Kyoto agreement provide. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) works to see the enforcement of the Kyoto Protocol to encourage developed countries to stabilize GHG emissions. The UNFCC provides financial incentives to companies to reduce their carbon emissions. "Companies have the incentive of doing cleaner projects in that when they do cleaner projects not just is there a tariff involved in it, there is also carbon income involved," says Malik. "So they have a financial incentive for keeping their carbon emissions in control from the UNFCC. The way our company comes into it is we go to Pakistani industries and we say that these are the different measures that, in your industry, can lead to potential emission reductions within your factory and if you do this, you have this additional benefit, so now you have a bigger incentive of going into it."

Elaborating on how his company functions, Malik says, "We go to those companies and inform them about measures to reduce carbon emissions. Hypothetically speaking, if you run a cement plant, you can reduce the total carbon being emitted by your plant by a certain amount. The heat, for example, which is produced by the plant at 300 degrees, is wasted into the atmosphere. If they convert that heat into something known as 'waste heat recovery boulders' by generating steam through the same process, the same quantum of carbon dioxide which was previously coming out at 300 degrees Celsius, will now emit at 100 degrees only. Carbon neutral electricity can be generated this way."

Working to reduce carbon emissions is a win-win situation for factories. Given the case for GHG emission reductions and the financial incentives that companies have for doing it, it is surprising that many companies are still not joining the league of "green companies" in Pakistan.

The problem that Malik identifies as acting as a hurdle in implementing the CDM is that most Pakistani industrialists are not that keen to invest in their factories. "When we started two and a half years ago, most Pakistani industries didn't have any idea about carbon credits," he shares. "The cement sector is a rare exception. Everyone wants to reinvest, to grow and to improve their factories. Sugar has huge potential too. Similarly, wind power and hydropower also have a lot of unexplored potential." He says that they had to explain most of the part about carbon emissions to Pakistani companies.

"When we started our company, we started doing this with a very mature company probably one of the top five in the world by the name First Climate, it--a Swiss entity," says Malik. "We have now begun to grow businesses outside of Pakistan in places like Iran, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Algeria, Morocco etc.

"We are very late when it comes to some of the big hitters like China, Indonesia, Malaysia because other countries from other countries like India for instance, have already gone and captured those markets. This is kind of like what we saw in the IT outsourcing business. There is a lot of technical work and if you can get that competence you can basically take the services anywhere and provide those services to companies over there.

"Engineering-wise or otherwise we have a very good skill set locally. We have engineers who have a very good command over the English language which is the medium we use to communicate our case to the UN. Very technical legal documents have to prepared comprising hundreds of pgs. It is very thorough, technical, legal work." However, Malik proudly shares that although the company took a late start, the company has about 50 projects that were taken to the UNFCC and there are some 50 other projects that other companies have taken forward.

Carbon services has also arranged many seminars with the Ministry of Environment to educate different industries about what CDM is, what projects are being done and what can be done within their countries. "We try and bring in examples from India, China, Brazil etc about what their industries have done and disseminate that information to local industries," says Malik. "The Ministry of Environment's department that looks after this is Designation National Authorities (DNA) is extremely active and very proactive towards promoting CDM in Pakistan"

Cutting down on carbon emissions and taking effective measures to prevent processes that emit GHG is a possibility within our country. Not only will such measures save the globe from the dangerous effects of carbon emissions, it will also help drive sustainable development in the country and with companies providing CDM and carbon consulting services, going green has become easier for corporate entities in Pakistan, not to mention the win-win situation that it presents for them.

You can find more information about the company and the expertise Omar's team has to offer by logging onto their website at carbon.com.pk

Keywords: Environment  
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