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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Why Pakistan needs a robust environmental policy

According to Junaid Ahmed Sohoo, Pakistan must formulate a well-planned and comprehensive environmental policy to deal with current and imminent environmental threats.

In order to move in the correct direction, it is essential to formulate robust policies to tackle complicated issues. The economists formulate economic policy to deal with the financial crisis, seasoned diplomats make foreign policy to make cordial relations with other states, and specialized people in security and policing devise counter-terrorism policy to counter-terror elements.

To deal with current and imminent environmental threats, it is necessary for Pakistan to formulate a well-planned and comprehensive environmental policy involving all the major stakeholders including politicians, planners, economists, environmentalists, social activists, media groups, and citizenry.

Read more: Pakistan’s anachronistic economic policy and its solution

The main reason for getting involved with these all stakeholders is to make Pakistan’s environmental policy more inclusive while covering the broad-based areas.

The major significance of any policy related to environment is that it gives you the direction which can push local industries, manufacturing units, non-renewable power plants and businesses to set some benchmarks for halting environmental deterioration and taking proactive and environmental-friendly steps.

Read more: Environmental Degradation in Pakistan and its impact on Socio-economic development

An absence of climate change efforts

Unfortunately, in Pakistan, there is no clear-cut environmental policy. In the field of climate change, we are not doing enough to materialize our environmental goals. We still have not done enough to reap the benefits of the billion tree tsunami project.

This government is going to complete its three-year tenure but billion tree tsunami saplings are nowhere to be found in major cities like Karachi and Lahore. It seems that the target of this initiative is quite a far-fetched dream seeing the current progress of the project.

Read more: 100 million trees to be planted in Pakistan over five years

On the other hand, there is an absence of climate change diplomacy. We have not taken any significant steps with other major countries to initiate the projects related to climate change and its mitigation, unlike India which is aligning itself with the United States to work on clean energy projects such as clean energy finance.

Similarly, there is less propagation of the world’s imminent crisis of climate change by the government in Pakistan. It has been more engrossed in other trivial issues and cosmetic reforms rather than promoting the rhetoric of climate change in its meetings and day-to-day affairs.

Read more: Climate Change: Is Pakistan doing enough?

Lack of efficient waste management   

In the realm of solid waste management, it looks that our people have accepted solid waste as their part of daily life. The government approach towards the collection and transportation of solid waste is quite lukewarm and lethargic.

No major city can be seen without waste lying on its main arteries and thoroughfares. No doubt, we have various waste management boards and firms in metropolitan cities, but their major contribution is nowhere to be seen. The cosmopolitan city of Karachi is the prime example where one can observe large piles of garbage in every nook and corner.

Read more: Clean Hunza-Nestle works towards a waste free Hunza

Moreover, scavengers and local people are hell-bent to throw this harmful garbage into various water bodies causing damage to human life and the marine ecosystem.

Similarly, hospital waste management is a sector that has been not given any due attention since old times. One can see the mega hospitals throwing their hazardous waste on the seaside of Karachi. The management of our local hospitals does not invest in incinerators to burn that hazardous waste.

Read more: Hospitals stole millions of zakat fund, reveals report

It is very sad to see that developed countries are giving attention to waste as a resource and employing various technologies like waste-to-energy to tap its full potential but we are just focusing on waste minimization reactive strategies.

Air pollution in Pakistan 

Last, of all, the deteriorating air quality is posing serious threats to our population but we have not taken any proactive step yet to combat it. It has become a norm to blame India for burning the stubble and causing havoc in the form of smog in Pakistan. But, the main reasons for this poor quality of air are coal-powered plants, outdated transportation system, increasing brick kilns in Punjab, and solid waste burning.

The major contributors of global emissions are diverting towards renewable energy to improve their air quality. China has taken the pledges to improve its air quality by shifting its focus to clean energy. But we are least interested in converting all non-renewable power plants and concentrate more on wind, solar, hydrogen, and thermal energy.

Read more: Pakistan’s struggle with air pollution

Although small initiatives like the wind corridor in Jhimpir and Quaid-e-Azam Solar power park seem a good omen for the public, there is still a long way to go. In the same way, it is necessary to improve our outdated transportation system and focus on an efficient mass transit system having less carbon footprint.

Brick kilns must be replaced by the incumbent zig-zag technology and air pollution control devices and systems like dry scrubbers and electrostatic precipitators must be installed in mega industries to capture various pollutants.

Read more: Rising COVID-19 in Pakistan: Stupid it’s the air pollution

Strong measures

All these steps can be crystallized if our government formulates an effective environmental policy involving all stakeholders and giving clear policy directions and implementation mechanism.

There should be periodic monitoring of these policy measures. If anyone is found guilty or lethargic in his attitude in the implementation of environmental policy, he or she must be replaced with an effective and qualified person.

Read more: Pakistan’s Age of Accountability: Will it sustain itself?

This can be only possible if we become sensitized that dreadful consequences produced by climate change outweigh the consequences of a financial crisis.

The author is a graduate of the Institute of Environmental Engineering Mehran UET Jamshoro. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.