Pakistan is not from among the major carbon emission countries but it is one of top states vulnerable to climate change impact. It has been placed at the 5th slot in global Risk Index of Germanwatch. The country has witnessed devastating effects of global warming such as deluge like flood of July 2010, followed by several floods every year, long spells of droughts, glacial lakes outbursts, excessive and less rains.
Climate change is a global phenomenon as reckoned in Kyoto Protocol of 2005 and landmark Paris agreement of 2016. However, local solutions like massive tree plantation, prevention of deforestation by timber mafia and electricity generation from hydel, wind and solar can mitigate its impact. Government has to take and implements appropriate decisions of abandoning setting up fossil fuel run power generation plants and installing carbon scrubbles devices to reduce the density of carbon emission from industries. In this regard a small state Bhutan has provided an example worth emulation which is carbon negative by giving priority to tree plantation with community participation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched nationwide tree plantation to achieve the target of planting 10 billion saplings. Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad on Sunday, the Prime Minister highlighted the growing risk posed by the hazards of climate change and destruction it is causing to the agrarian economy of the country. He said that it is collectively responsibility of the government, people and their elected representatives to make the country green for future generations.
While in opposition, Imran Khan had persistently sensitised the people against the harmful effects of global warming and benefits of tree plantation to combat this menace. He had directed previous PTI government in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa to launch billion trees Tsunami programme, which has been successfully completed. The success story of Prime Minister’s billion tree plantation programme has been appreciated in the World Economic Forum Report, stating that 350,000 hectares of land had been brought under forests in the mountainous areas of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa by 2017. Forest cover in the province has increased from 2 percent to 5 percent. However, it is below the UN recommended level of 12 percent forest cover to mitigate the adverse effect of climate change.
Stepping into the shoes of its predecessor, the incumbent PTI government in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa had set a target of planting 20 million saplings under spring tree plantation programme. With same zest and zeal, in Monsoon tree plantation record plantation of 3.5 million has been done in 853 areas across the province, including achieving the target of one million in Peshawar division. The government has taken cognizance of a video that went viral on social media, showing plucking out newly planted saplings by workers of two small opposition parties in Bara Subdivision of tribal district of Khyber. However, tribal elders replanted them, which reflect the awareness of masses about climate change.
Notwithstanding great achievement of 3 percent increase in forest cover, the present PTI government has not succeeded to rein in the timber mafia which is not only doing forests cutting at large scale but it is also involved in setting on fire plantations that has been done under billion tree tsunami in the previous government. It may be recalled that last year civil society activists had given sit in in front of the office of District Forest Officer Sawat last year against the massive forests cuttings. An inquiry Committee was constituted by the Chief Minster to probe the matter but nothing was heard later about the findings of the committee. Incident of setting new plantation on fire were reported from Sawat, Dir and Harripur. Again inquiry Committee was formed but it turned out a hush up exercise. Quite recently, merciless wood cutting has been reported from two areas of upper Dir district. The elements involved in deforestation must be brought to justice.
NEPRA proposed Generation Capacity Expansion Plan 2020-47, with primary driver of thermal power production, will certainly enhance the climate change risk for the country. An Energy Policy should not be accorded approval, which is in conflict with the one that is being hectically implemented for fighting the climate change.