BATTLE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
Pakistan, which has been listed as the 7th most vulnerable country affected by climate change, is now seriously tackling the vagaries of weather, both at the official as well as non-official level.Pursuant to an initiative launched by the Pakistan Parliament’s Upper House, the Senate, which specially entrusted a sub-Committee of the Standing Committee on Climate Change to focus on “Green and Clean” Islamabad, media, civil society and students have taken up the cudgels on combating climate change.On April 10, over 500 students and faculty of one of the prominent universities of Islamabad, COMSATS, launched the “Say No to Plastics” campaign which includes distribution of flyers underlining hazards of plastics use, backed by a door-to-door awareness campaign as well as cautioning against plastic littering.This is just one component of the campaign against environmental degradation in Pakistan, the seeds of which were planted in 2014 when a similar Senate sub-Committee declared the “Right to a clean, green and healthy environment” as a fundamental Human Right. That sub-Committee also published Pakistan’s first Media Manual on Environmental Degradation and Climate Change. This was the outcome of the first-ever Public Hearings on environment and climate change in Pakistan’s parliament which incidentally is the first Green Parliament in the world since it is powered by solar panels, a gift from China.
According to experts, Pakistan has faced around 150 freak weather incidents as a result of climate change in the past 20 years: flash floods, smog in winter, forest fires in summer, melting glaciers, freaky heatwaves, landsides, displaced population, etc. During floods in 2010-11, almost 10% of Pakistan’s population was displaced in 2 provinces, one in the North and another in the South. Last year, the costs of extreme weather as a consequence of climate change, were listed at $ 384 million and in the past 20 years, there has been a cost of almost $ 2 billion to the national economy because of the ravages of climate change. Efforts are being undertaken to mitigate the problem. For instance, some $ 120 million funds have been expended in the country in the past 5 years to arrest forest degradation and to promote tea plantations . There has also an effort to bring about a more eco-friendly energy mix for Pakistan.