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Standing Committee on Climate Change suggests removing taxes on hybrid cars to fight pollution

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News Analysis |

Amongst other problems, the National Assembly has established that the rising air pollution in the country, especially Punjab and the federal capital are problems that need immediate counters.

The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Climate Change has asked the federal government to abolish taxes on hybrid cars so that rising air pollution could be checked, as displayed by the two-fortnight long smog that blinded most of Punjab last month. The root cause was discovered when NASA shared GIS imagery of an agricultural fire cluster in India.

The committee was told that in July 2017, the climate change ministry had written to the Establishment Division for compilation of rules of business for the CCA, which would act as an action manifesto.

It showed how massive fires were set to fields by hundreds of thousands of farmers in the nearby states of Punjab and Haryana. Gradually, the entire Punjab in Pakistan and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) were engulfed in thick smog.

A meeting of the committee, chaired by Malik Muhammad Uzair Khan, also laid stress on the implementation of a fine for violating environmental laws and suggested that it should be increased to maintain the quality of air. The large number of fish that were found dead in Rawal Lake in July this year due to arsenic poisoning was also discussed in the meeting.

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Shaista Perveen, a member of the committee, had raised the issue that triggered a series of complaints against the Islamabad administration and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as different reports were submitted on the death of fish.

The committee members said the Islamabad administration had reported that fish in such numbers died due to the pouring of poisonous substances into Rawal Lake, whereas the EPA reported that death had been caused by bacterial contamination. These contradictory reports amongst institutions that were working on similar grounds were also criticized.

Pakistan was generating 35 percent electricity through renewable sources. The implementation of Climate Change Act 2017 and the current status of Climate Change Authority (CCA) were also brought under discussion.

Shedding light on the feud, the EPA representative informed the committee that the Islamabad administration had only shared the forensic report with them and had not shared its report on the quality of water in the lake. It was decided that all relevant institutions and bodies should pool their resources to find the exact reason for the death of fish.

The committee also discussed the measures taken by the Ministry of Climate Change and the EPA to improve the quality of air and counter carbon emissions as well as smog.

Syed Abu Ahmed Akif, secretary of the ministry, told the committee that a project for environment monitoring system (EMS) had been initiated with the cooperation of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2005 to embolden the air monitoring system. However, he told the committee that after the project completed its tenure in 2010, the system became dysfunctional, and now that it is required once again, the EPA has submitted its revival cost at Rs. 1.8 Million.

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When the committee inquired about the air pollution generated by vehicles, an official of the Petroleum Division informed the committee that all oil refineries, except two, were producing Euro-II compliance products. The committee was also informed that the ministry of petroleum had also imposed heavy fines on the refineries that were not meeting the Euro-II standards.

The committee also discussed the measures taken by the Ministry of Climate Change and the EPA to improve the quality of air and counter carbon emissions as well as smog.

Waving aside the concern that licenses for coal plants were being issued by provincial governments, Mushahidullah Khan, Minister for Climate Change, told the committee that electricity generation through coal was almost negligible in Pakistan in comparison with regional countries like India and China, where it was around 40 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

He said that Pakistan was generating 35 percent electricity through renewable sources. The implementation of Climate Change Act 2017 and the current status of Climate Change Authority (CCA) were also brought under discussion.

Read more: India Attempts to Block Pakistan Funding for Climate Change Project

The committee was told that in July 2017, the climate change ministry had written to the Establishment Division for compilation of rules of business for the CCA, which would act as an action manifesto. But even after holding many meetings the rules of business were yet to be prepared.

The federal secretary for Ministry of Climate Change Secretary Syed Abu Ahmed Akif also briefed the committee on the Climate Change Council (CCC), which will function under the Climate Change Authority as a legislative body and said the council would comprise of over 40 members of which 30 would be taken from private and 10 from public sectors. A member of the committee suggested that at least two members, one each from the National Assembly and the Senate, must also be included in the CCC.


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