More than 12 years have passed since Pakistan last measured the quality of air in its largest cities. And while the results were found to be downright disturbing, there is no reason to suspect that transport emissions may have improved since then. Convinced that such emissions have grown exponentially worse with each passing year, environmental experts are at a loss to explain why no new study has been undertaken. Karachi, the country’s largest city, has been at the thick end of the environmental stick. The quality of air in Karachi is highly degraded due to several major factors, including the substandard quality of fuel. The fact that it has no mass transit scheme in place only exacerbates the problem. Diesel-run buses and trucks are the backbone of our country’s transportation and are a major cause of air pollution. Far greater environmental risks lie ahead though. The government is resolute in its decision to allow operation of a number of coal-based projects.
Unlike many other countries that rely on the more environmentally-friendly rail sector, the bulk of Pakistan’s cargo is transported by road — posing a threat to the network’s sustainability and contributing to overall traffic congestion. If ways are not found to tackle air pollution soon, Pakistan will have to contend with stiff economic challenges.
There are a few measures that are of critical importance such as cutting back on the use of fossil fuels because this would help to reduce emission of particulate matter and lessen carbon and nitrogen emissions from vehicle exhaust.
Collaborative efforts, as well as long-term commitment, are needed to reduce emissions that contribute to poor air quality. Communities, industries, businessmen all need to do their part in pushing for a healthier and a more sustainable environment. Such efforts have the potential of bringing about a stark improvement in the overall health of the planet.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2018.