Climate change is a global issue in which Pakistan is the least contributor. As per Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Pakistan stands at 135 among the countries contributing to the global carbon emission. However, at the same time, it is the 7th most vulnerable country to its harmful impacts. Pakistan emits less than 1 per cent of global carbon emission, according to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since Pakistan does not contribute to the issue to a large extent, it has limited options to do something at the national level to mitigate the consequences of climate change.
Options available to Pakistan to combat climate change
Pakistan can take the following measures to address the issue of climate change.
- Improving the literacy rate:
In order to fight climate change, it is imperative for the citizens to have basic information about its catastrophic repercussions and ways to counter them. At present, despite, many people have faced its consequences in the form of migration owing to flash flooding, yet, they are not ready to blame climate change to be the main culprit behind their displacement. It is because of their inadequate knowledge about its ramifications. Thus, in Pakistan that hosts around 50 per cent illiterate population, the improvement in the literacy rate will be counted as the first measure to combat climate change.
- Creating eco-consciousness through attitudinal shift:
There is an urgent need to create eco-consciousness among the people. The responsibility towards the environment is called eco-consciousness. At present, many people do not care about the environment and contribute to its pollution without any hesitation. This mindset needs to be changed from reckless to consciousness towards nature called attitudinal shift. It can be achieved at school level. Thus, creating eco-consciousness through attitudinal shift is the best way to involve the entire population to curb environmental pollution and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
- Switching from coal to wind projects for energy production under CPEC:
Use of coal to generate electricity pollutes the environment and ultimately causes climate change. Former minister of Planning and development, Ahsan Iqbal, informed the parliamentary committee on CPEC that Thar coal would be used for electricity generation for the next 400 years in Pakistan. It is estimated that around 8000 Mega watts electricity of Pakistan will come from the coal, which is the most polluting source of energy in the world. The exploitation of coal will further deteriorate the already vulnerable position of Pakistan towards climate change. Keeping in view the harmful impact of coal for the environment, Pakistan should change its policy and switch to wind power projects that are environmental friendly.
- Banning single-use plastic:
Pakistan needs to ban single-use plastic. The connection between the plastic and climate change has been revealed in the recently concluded study. The research suggests that the plastic contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, from its production to its refining and the way it is managed as a waste product. Besides, by 2050 plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the total “carbon budget” – equivalent to 615 coal-fired power plants, says the report. In 2019, Zartaz Gul, the federal minister for climate change, took required step by banning single-use plastic in Islamabad. Sindh government also completely banned the use of plastic bags. However, the measures lacked the implementation as the plastic is used avowedly, despite being banned, in Islamabad and Sindh province.
- Declaring “Green Day” officially by the federal government:
The federal government, in collaboration with the provincial administrations, should declare one day of the entire year as a “Green Day” and urge the citizens to plant one tree in their neighborhood. The students of schools, colleges and universities must also be made a part of this day and encouraged to bring one tree with them to be planted in their respective institutions or its surroundings. In this way, millions of trees would be planted every year turning the country green and eventually, it will reduce the presence of Carbon-di-oxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.
- Controlling population:
With a large number of people living in the country, there are more chances of polluting the environment. Pakistan’s population was 34 million in 1951. It has reached to a whooping 207 million with anticipated projection of 400 million by 2040. With dwindling resources, the population growth rate at the current pace would further contribute to climate change in Pakistan. it is, therefore, imperative for the country to devise a comprehensive policy for population reduction.
- Empowering women:
Women empowerment can also be used as an agent to combat climate change. Women are mothers that are concerned for the future of their children. Besides, they are also anxious about the food security of their children. Moreover, they are mostly engaged in agricultural sector in Pakistan and rely on it for their livelihood. Keeping in view these facts, women can play a vital role in overcoming the threats of climate change, if they are given power and responsibilities. However, the status of women, particularly in rural regions, paints a dismal image. Their role in decision-making is almost negligible. Thus, it is necessary to empower the women because they can act as a vital weapon to fight climate change.
- Improving the relations with the neighboring countries:
As already described, climate change is a global issue and it cannot be overcome without the cooperation of the neighboring countries. For examples, the thick blanket of smog, experience by Lahore every year, is caused by the industries located on the Indian border. Without good friendly relations with India, Pakistan cannot resolve the issue of smog. However, our existing relations with India remain abysmal that needs to be improved to act in collaboration to defeat the global issue.
- Working closely with the European nations:
Pakistan should work closely with the European countries like the Great Britain, France, Denmark, Germany and so on to force global contributors of climate change like the US and China to switch from non-renewable to clean source of energy. The European countries have taken the issue seriously and already have adopted measures to reduce carbon emissions. For instances, the United Kingdom (UK) has set a target to ban fuel engines cars by 2040 and is investing in the research and development of electrical vehicles as an alternative. Thus, Pakistan should work closely with these countries on the issue of climate change.
Thus, the options available to Pakistan to combat climate change range from improving the literacy rate, creating eco-consciousness through attitudinal shift, switching from coal to wind projects for energy production under CPEC, banning single-use plastic, declaring “Green Day” officially by the federal government, controlling population, empowering women, improving relations with the neighboring countries to working closely with the European nations. Since the issue is very serious for Pakistan, it must immediately take the given measures without any delay.