Climate change: Provinces yet to chalk out concrete plans

Punjab plans to crack down on smog, Sindh drafts its own policy as K-P and G-B remain absent


Shahzad Anwar December 12, 2017
Punjab plans to crack down on smog, Sindh drafts its own policy as K-P and G-B remain absent. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Even as the world marks International Mountain Day with a focus on the impact of climate change, all the provinces and regions of the country have yet to chalk out concrete plans to tackle issues under the National Climate Change Policy.

The provinces, however, shared a sketchy list of actions to deal with climate change issues at the fourth meeting of National Climate Change Policy Implementation Committee (NCCPIC). The meeting was held at the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) under the chair of Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan on Monday.

The first meeting of the NCCPIC had been held in the federal capital on April 23, 2015, in which all the provinces, the relevant ministries and divisions, had been asked to submit their short, medium and long-term plans spelling out adaptation measures and ways and means to tackle climate change issues.

Moreover, they had been told to submit their project concept notes relating to the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF was set up within the framework of the UNFCCC as a mechanism to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.

Meeting after a period of two years and nine months, the Climate Change Minister repeated his request to provinces to take an interest and devise projects on an emergency basis to secure funding for their projects from the Green Climate Fund.

“Climate change is a national issue and requires efforts to combat it at many levels,” Mushahidullah said.

He also emphasised that provinces should make an effort to implement actions assigned under the National Climate Change Policy.

Muhshahidullah highlighted that the entire world was celebrating the International Mountain Day. Pakistan was geographically located in an area where the highest mountain ranges of the world, including the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas are located.

The Climate Change Minister warned that the mountain communities were under threat from the fast-changing climate in the form of melting glaciers which was directly impacting the people in the form of floods, droughts and glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).

A MoCC official said that so far only one project, for GLOFs, has been able to attract $36 million in funding from the GCF Board.

Earlier at the beginning of the meeting, MoCC Environment Director General (DG) Irfan Tariq briefed committee members about the decisions taken by the committee in its previous meeting which was followed by presentations by the provinces about their respective actions.

Punjab’s representative,  while briefing the committee members said that the provincial government had devised a provincial smog policy which included issuance of health advisories, traffic advisories, ban on burning crop residue to prevent smoke-emission, shutting down major smoke emitting industries, the introduction of low-sulphur fuels, and adoption of Euro-II standards for reduction of vehicular emission. The province is also attempting to introduce a clean air action plan.

Sindh told the committee members that they had submitted around 86 projects for the priority and short-term section of GCF, adding that they had also drafted their own climate change policy.

The member from Azad Jammu and Kashmir shared that regional government had assigned the responsibility of water management to a single entity which also contributes to the National Water Policy.

He added that the AJK government was working on upstream investments — in water management — to safeguard downstream infrastructures such as energy, food and water.

“AJK government is working on a number of projects on a priority basis including protection of precious agriculture land, livestock health services and installation of solar tube wells,” the state’s representative said.

There was no participation from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) in Monday’s meeting.

The Ministry of Science and Technology and Balochistan also updated the committee about their respective actions.

“Currently, the policies of state institutions including those of G-B Council not only support the timber mafia but also encourages them to go on a cutting spree of forests located in the Diamir and other areas of the region,” said environmental activist Khan Muhammad Quraishi.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2017.

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