The level of awareness against the dangerous impact of climate change is growing in Pakistan. To be a part of global march on Friday against this looming environmental disaster, people from all walks of life and student participated in Climate Action now walk organized by environment activists in 26 cities and towns of the country including the metropolitan cities of Karachi and Lahore. The climate change impact has been created by global warming because of emission of carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases by the industries in the United States, China India Brazil and some other industrialized countries. The binding provisions of Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreements of Climate Change are not complied with.
A senior female PPP leader, Senator Sherry Rehman in a tweet on this occasion called on people to participate in this march to provide clean environment to the current and future generations. Carbon emission is one of the major ingredients of environmental pollution. But ironically, it was during the second and third tenure of PPP government that electricity generation from cleaner and renewable sources had been completely abandoned and gone for the option of setting up diesel and furnace oil run thermal power plants, which release greenhouse gases into the air with greater density.
The last PML-N government went a step further in environmental degradation and increasing climate change impact in Pakistan, ignoring the warning of Germanwatch against its being the 7th most vulnerable country to climate change. It decided to set up 13 coals based thermal power plants under CPEC although former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with finance Minister Ishaq Dar had attended the Paris moot on Climate Change. Two such health hazardous power plants of crude Chinese technology, one each at Port Qasim in Sindh and Sahiwal in Punjab, had been made operational. The dangerous health issue that may be caused by coal based thermal power plants was agitated by Syed Khursheed Shah of PPP in National Assembly Standing Committee meeting last year. He cautioned if all coal fired thermal power plants are built and made operational the thick smog will become a regular feature in Punjab and Sindh. The carbon emission from the Chinese’s built coal run power plants is a major factor of diseases like Asthma and Cancer.
The present PTI led government does not seem enthusiastic in building these power plants and in the proposed national energy policy cleaner sources of electricity generation shall be exploited. The present government is cognizant of the Global Climate Risk Index Report 2018, which ranks Pakistan 7th most vulnerable country exposed to climate change impact. The report quantifies that every year 523 people die in climate change driven natural calamities, including cyclones, storms, floods, glacial lake outburst and heat waves. The cumulative death toll has reached to 10462 in the past 20 years. The annual economic loss is $3.8 billion. The author of the report David Ekstein suggests that Pakistan should abandon its love for coal run power plants and make serious efforts for reducing carbon emission.
Prime Imran Khan is a dynamic activist of environment protection. It was under his guidance that previous PTI provincial government of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa successfully implemented billion tree plantation programme under which area under forests has been increased by 6 percent. Last year in September, the Prime Minister kick-stared a nationwide “Plant for Pakistan” massive forestation drive. Adopting a strategy of right man for the right job, a renowned environmentalist of world fame Malak Amin Aslam was appointed as advisor. But it is also a bitter fact that deforestation by timber mafia is still going on in the mountainous areas of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and GilgitBaltistan. It merits mention here that this mafia set on fire 210000 new plants which were planted during past few years in the province which gave heavy mandate to PTI in 2018 elections.