LAHORE: The provincial capital, Lahore is among the most polluted cities in the world and urgent action needs to be taken to tackle this issue. Air pollution caused by traffic, industries, crop burning and burning of solid waste are the major contributors of smog and the layer of smog will thicken in the coming days.
These facts were revealed by WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018 on Tuesday. The report, which was presented in the presence of environmental journalists and researchers, presented a sobering picture of the impact of human activities on the world’s wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and climate. It also underlined the urgent need for the global community to collectively rethink and redefine how we value, protect and restore nature.
Sharing his thoughts at the launch of the report, WWF-Pakistan Director General Hammad Naqi Khan said the Living Planet Index (LPI), which tracks trends in global wildlife abundance, indicates that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined, on average, by 60% between 1970 and 2014. These declining populations are especially pronounced in South America (89%), Africa (56%) and the Indo-Pacific (64%) region which includes Pakistan. In addition to these declining trends, Pakistan is adversely affected by illegal wildlife trade which has deeply impacted our biodiversity.
He said the smuggling of freshwater turtles and pangolins were a growing concern as well as rising rates of deforestation. “Increasing deforestation has contributed to increased threats for species such as the snow and common leopard which are fast losing their habitat. Pakistan is experiencing a steady rise in carbon emissions, which contributes to global issues such as climate change and global warming,” he said.
Khan said Lahore and Karachi were among the 10 most polluted cities in the world in terms of air quality, according to air quality monitor AirVisual.
“Humanity and the way we feed, fuel and finance our societies and economies are pushing the nature and the services that power and sustain us to the brink, he said while quoting the contents of the report.
The Living Planet Report 2018 presented a comprehensive overview of the state of the natural world, 20 years after the flagship report was first published. Through indicators such as the Living Planet Index (LPI), provided by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Species Habitat Index (SHI), the IUCN Red List Index (RLI) and the Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII), as well as Planetary Boundaries and the Ecological Footprint, the report paints a singular disturbing picture: human activity is pushing the planet’s natural systems that support life on Earth to the edge.
“The ranking today puts Lahore at the top of the list and urgent action needs to be taken to tackle this issue,” he said. “The urban air pollution in Pakistan is among the world's most severe, significantly damaging human health, quality of life, economy and the environment.”
He urged people to move around with face masks to protect themselves from breathing problems, eye, nose, and throat infections.
The report highlights that over recent decades, human activity has also severely impacted the habitats and natural resources wildlife and humanity depend on such as oceans, forests, coral reefs, wetlands and mangroves.
Globally, nature provides services worth around $125 trillion a year, while also helping ensure the supply of fresh air, clean water, food, energy, medicines and other products and materials. The report specifically looked at the importance of pollinators which are responsible for $235-577 billion in crop production per year, and how a changing climate, intensive agricultural practices, invasive species and emerging diseases have impacted their abundance, diversity and health.
Evidence shows that the two agendas - for the environment and human development - must converge if we are to build a sustainable future for all. The Living Planet Report 2018 highlighted the opportunity the global community has to protect and restore the nature leading up to 2020, a critical year when world leaders were expected to review the progress made on the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
WWF is calling on people, businesses and governments to mobilise and deliver on a comprehensive framework agreement for nature and people under the CBD, one that galvanizes public and private action to protect and restore global biodiversity and nature and bend the curve on the devastating trends highlighted in the Living Planet Report 2018.