Pakistan’s prime minister regrets country among 10 most vulnerable countries despite contributing less than 1% in global carbon emissions
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday reiterated the incumbent government’s aim to develop master plans for cities across Pakistan to restrict their expansion, stressing that this is essential to counter the adverse impacts of climate change.
“Our cities are under stress and they are expanding and green cover is fading,” he told a ceremony to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Climate Change and the World Bank. He said “ring-fencing” of cities was required to keep the environment clean and stem pollution of water resources. Referring to Punjab capital Lahore—which is often cited as one of the most polluted cities in the world—he claimed its air quality had deteriorated due to rampant deforestation and was now causing health concerns,
“Pakistan, despite contributing less than 1% to global carbon emissions, is unfortunately among the 10 most vulnerable countries,” he said. “It is very important for Pakistanis to think as a nation and protect our future generations,” he said and blamed developed nations for moving too late to tackle global warming. “We are not responsible for it [climate change]; the countries which emit the carbons most did not acknowledge the challenge of climate change and took steps very late,” he said.
He noted that the incumbent government had undertaken various initiatives to counter climate change, including its flagship 10 Billion Tree Tsunami program; the establishment of 15 national parks across Pakistan; and digital cadastral mapping to protect existing forests.
“We have to protect our existing forests, boost our tree plantation campaigns to enhance the forest cover and develop more national parks,” he said, adding that mangroves cover along the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan was being enhanced to help recharge groundwater and protect wildlife. He regretted that rising temperatures were causing the country’s glaciers to melt, reducing the available water supply and this needed to be addressed if Pakistan did not wish to become acutely water-stressed.
The prime minister said that the government would hire people to protect national parks and would also utilize technology such as drones to surveil the area. This, he maintained, would both help protect forests and wildlife and create employment opportunities for local people.
Khan concluded his speech by appreciating the Ministry of Climate Change and the World Bank for the launch of the “Green Stimulus” initiative. Under the agreement, the World Bank would provide Rs. 22 billion for 14 green initiatives across the country.
Special Assistant to the P.M. on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said that the Green Stimulus program would generate 135,000 jobs over the next nine months across Pakistan. It would target forestry, protected areas, clean green cities and electric mobility, he said.
In a video message, World Bank Vice President Juergen Voegele conveyed his deep appreciation for Pakistan’s endeavors to address climate change and highlighted the World Bank commitments to supports Islamabad’s efforts in this regard.