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The News International

Published Date: Mar 28, 2021

Policy shift urged as non traditional security threats loom

ISLAMABAD: Experts on Saturday called on the government to treat the country’s non-traditional security challenges such as energy and environment crises in the same way as traditional ones.

A consensus to this effect was reached during a webinar titled “Non-traditional security challenges: energy and environment crises”, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

They said tackling energy and environmental crises as non-traditional security challenges as a nation might boost our overall national security paradigm.

The key speakers at the webinar included: Muhammad Irfan Tariq, Director General Environment and Climate Change, Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel, Chairperson of the Board of Governors of SDPI, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director SDPI, Mirza Sadaqat, Huda Policy Analyst, Ermeena Asad Malik, Consultant World Bank & Energy Expert, and Dr Hina Aslam, Associate Research Fellow energy.

Kakakhel said the nexus among climate change, energy and security was very well established.

“The non-traditional challenges, energy and environment crises, may take a toll on the development,” he added.

He said since the industrial revolution, it brought revolution from rural to urban, from artesian based industry to big industries, from very difficult life conditions in Europe and North America where winters were seen as a punishment but energy conquered the harsh weather and also helped in improving health conditions.

Initially there was a tremendous happiness and everyday efforts were made to create more sources of energy but then somewhere in the 1980s, climatologists realised that there were changes in the climate pattern (global warming) induced by humans and use of fossil fuels, he continued. The SPDI official highlighted the efforts of scientist and different meteorological organisations, UNEP, eventually led to a political consensus on the need for actions and cooperation to handle climate change as a new threat to the international community.

Right from the beginning, Kakakhel said the nexus between the energy and security was recognised and the emphasis was put on cleaner energy.

“The non-traditional security threat in terms of climate change could be countered if we went for renewable and clean energy, which would also address the energy shortages in Pakistan which we had been experiencing since 2008,” he said.

He said thousands of factories had to be closed, schools and hospitals could not function and life became very difficult and the government had to resort to desperate moves including the use of coal-based energy.

“But we have begun to realize that the solution of the environmental and climate change crises is in not abandoning energy but in developing and deploying clean and renewable energy,” he added.

Muhammad Irfan Tariq, DG Environment/Climate Change, said the non-traditional security threats were there but they were neglected or not seen through policy lenses.

“We face a very serious threat because the sources we use are highly impacted by climate change and when we talk about hydro, it not only threats our energy security but also poses serious threat to water and food security,” he said.

“So, I will consider climate change a security threat to our energy security and that’s why we have vision and plans to move to renewable energy and it will hopefully lead us to energy security,” Tariq added.