Peace through Economic Development- Part 1 Laying the Foundation

India is an emerging economy with a population of 1.38 billion people.

China is the world’s fastest growing emerging economy bound to takeover US soon with a population of 1.43 billion people.

Pakistan is a country with a population of 220 million people, with the GDP 1/10th the size of India’s GDP and population 1/6th the size of India’s population. The two countries can be compared because they gained their independence at the same time from British rule. Why is it then, that India is growing and advancing technologically while Pakistan still lags far behind?

The answer is complex, because of the geopolitics and the internal political struggle that has left Pakistan’s economy bereft. While my purpose is not to delve into the wars fought and other historical struggles, if interested, it is well described concisely in the book titled ‘Prisoners of Geography’ authored by Tim Marshall.

These neighbouring countries due to their different strategic goals have clashed on several occasions. However, what can bring them together is economic development and cooperation.

In this series of articles, I am going to focus on peace through Oil and Gas Pipelines. Iran also becomes a key player. The peace pipeline has been abandoned by Pakistan and India. In present day, it is an ideal and an opportune time to revive the deal that has suffered at the hands of foreign influence and international sanctions on Iran.

US and Iran are going to engage in indirect talks to resume JCPOA- the nuclear agreement. If these countries can put aside their conflicts, i.e., Iran, Pakistan, China, India, and US. Iran can resume its nuclear agreement under international agreement and Pakistan and India can benefit by meeting their energy needs. In the process, they can create much needed specialist jobs, build infrastructure and kickstart upstream, downstream, and midstream companies in the Oil and Gas Sector. China benefits from it all as it has vested interests in Pakistan and Iran. As growing economies, they can help Iran broker the deal with US. It sounds like an easy issue, but it is an extremely difficult one. What do I gain from writing this research? Perhaps some peace in my mind that I am working towards achieving peace in an unstable region. Iran has its own troubles in the Middle Eastern region, which of course does not help. Setting aside the issues in Middle East for now, I am going to focus on Pakistan’s and India’s energy needs and demands for their long-term growth and prosperity. Sounds a bit selfish that I am just ignoring the Middle Eastern crises. What I do know is that, like everything cannot be painted with a single stroke of brush, similarly, peace cannot be achieved with stability in the whole world simultaneously. When one starts to understand the nature of the ‘Self’, a lot of clarity emerges on all issues whether they are of individual nature or collective.

The Great Reset after the pandemic has created a shift towards cleaner energy, lowering carbon emissions and safeguarding our ecosystem. I do not believe that the renewable energy sources alone can meet those needs. We live in a complex world. Even at the height of the pandemic and world wide lockdowns, oil demand fell by a mere 7 mbpd. The world can’t just kick the oil habit with a swish of a magic wand. We consume approximately 100 mbpd of oil. That is 4.2 billion gallons of oil in a single day. On the contrary, I believe that we have to do a lot to create a safer world and safeguard our ecosystem. Climate change, biodiversity, deforestation, afforestation, ocean pollution, plastic waste, whales, phytoplankton, and coral reefs are major issues we face as humankind collectively.

The optimum and safer mix of energy that each nation can create, the more it can contribute towards fighting climate change and all environmental issues mentioned above. Oil spills from VLCCs and tankers are still huge detrimental issues for the seas and oceans.

An appropriate mix of energy between the renewables and non-renewables can create an optimum mix of energy that is productive for the society. This productivity can be utilised, and funds can be appropriated to fight climate change, plant trees and progress towards building a cleaner and safer earth.

40 % of the world’s population resides in (China, India, Iran, and Pakistan) these four nations that share borders and economic ties. This region is also where the centre of the world will shift to with this reset and where perhaps the new world order will emerge once more as Ray Dalio describes in his book the ‘Changing World Order’. The peace and stability becomes even more significant for these nations in the region.

This is the reason why I believe collective diplomacy among these countries can help bring stability, better economic growth, and prosperity for the masses. Of course, State of Kashmir remains the biggest issue between Pakistan and India. As I mentioned, my aim is not to seek resolution for the thorny geopolitical issues, for which I am sure there is a solution but difficult to achieve. My aim is to boost economic ties. If there is one thing I have learnt through history, it is that merchants, traders, and economic collaboration can bring the world together.

In my view, the best way to reduce carbon emissions is not through axing petrol and diesel vehicles and electrifying all vehicles. Sure, that is a noble cause as the entire transport sector accounts for 21% of total emissions, and road transport accounts for three-quarters of transport emissions, road transport accounts for 15% of total CO2 emissions.

Aviation – while it often gets the most attention in discussions on action against climate change – accounts for only 11.6% of transport emissions. It emits just under one billion tonnes of CO2 each year – around 2.5% of total global emissions. International shipping contributes a similar amount, at 10.6%. 

Rail travel and freight emits very little – only 1% of transport emissions. Other transport – which is mainly the movement of materials such as water, oil, and gas via pipelines – is responsible for 2.2%.

Source:  Our world in data

Source: IEA

What helps us absorb the CO2 that is released in the atmosphere is whales, phytoplankton, forests, coral reefs as they help ocean & land biodiversity.

According to International Moentary Fund (IMF), the average great whale absorbs approximately 30,000 kg of CO2 in its lifetime. The CO2 absorbed gets deposited at the bottom of the ocean with its carcass. Whereas, when these whales are hunted and killed all of that CO2 is released into the atmosphere. Whales are also responsible for the growth of phytoplankton. Wherever there are whales there is phytoplankton. Phytoplankton help remove 1/3rd of the atmospheric CO2. The CO2 is absorbed into the phytoplankton shells and sinks to the bottom of ocean once it dies.

Source: BBC- Future Planet

Do you see the direction I am trying to navigate to, with this peace pipeline? Railway Emissions are lowest with oil and gas pipelines, it also saves us from occasional but costly oil spills on sea and ports. That further helps us safeguard ocean biodiversity and help increase the number of endangered whales. All of this is in addition to fulfilling the growing demand of energy, providing energy to areas where there is a lack thereof, creating jobs, boosting the GDP which is a by-product of literacy rate, infrastructure, and productivity.

In the part 2 of this post, I will highlight the energy needs of the countries in discussion specifically India, Pakistan and China.

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