Let there be Light

A more co­her­ent and har­mo­nious energy pol­icy in the SAARC re­gion could pro­vide more work­able so­lu­tions.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Huza­ima Bukhari & Dr. Ikra­mul Haq

South Asian na­tions face a crit­i­cal energy short­age.

South Asia, be­ing energy de­mand and sup­ply de­fi­cient in ag­gre­gate and faced with im­bal­ances, is look­ing for sus­tain­able so­lu­tions. Joint ef­forts by mem­ber states of South Asian As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion (SAARC) for find­ing sus­tain­able energy so­lu­tions are un­der­way but much more is de­sired. The re­gion’s huge po­ten­tial of re­new­able clean energy re­mains un­tapped and mul­ti­di­men­sional chal­lenges re­quire

har­mon­is­ing re­gional poli­cies with the new global energy land­scape that prom­ises so­lu­tions with in­no­va­tion. Co­op­er­a­tion among SAARC states can en­sure ef­fi­cient uti­liza­tion of the re­gion's re­sources, in­crease in re­li­a­bil­ity of energy sup­ply, econ­omy in op­er­a­tional­iza­tion of ini­tia­tives, mu­tual sup­port in con­tin­gen­cies and con­fi­dence build­ing mea­sures for geo-po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion strat­egy.

In the past, ef­forts were made for cre­at­ing an "Energy Ring" within SAARC —pol­icy pa­per - Energy Pol­icy in SOUTH ASIA: The Way For­ward to Prompt Re­gional Trade - pre­pared by the Cham­ber of Com­merce & In­dus­try, SAARC . Ac­cord­ing to this study, “the key chal­lenges in­clude trans­form­ing bi­lat­eral power ex­change into mul­ti­lat­eral vi­sion be­yond four-na­tion Power Grid (Bangladesh, Bhutan, In­dia and Nepal), Com­pe­ti­tion and Low-car­bon De­vel­op­ment.” There are other chal­lenges as well, mainly on the po­lit­i­cal front, like energy lead­er­ship in the re­gion, mech­a­nism for In­dia-Pak­istan energy ex­change, pump­ing of energy from Cen­tral Asia and the Mid­dle East and the short­fall of SAARC energy re­sources for its re­quire­ment.

In­dia, in­stead of tak­ing the lead in energy within SAARC — Pak­istan lacks the ca­pac­ity as it faces se­vere energy cri­sis for the last two decades — has moved along with China, to­wards the ten mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) for shift­ing the cen­tre of grav­ity of the global energy sys­tem to­wards Asia. The energy de­mand in South­east Asia has ex­panded by two-and-a-half times since 1990, its rate of growth be­ing among the fastest in the world. Eco­nomic and de­mo­graphic trends point to fur­ther growth, lift­ing the re­gion’s energy use per capita from just half of the global av­er­age to­day.

The United States is the best model, hav­ing taken re­mark­able strides in the clean energy econ­omy through favourable tax­a­tion and sub­si­dies in the wake of the Amer­i­can

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