ISLAMABAD: The urban areas of the capital, compared to the surrounding rural areas, have become a heat island because of increase in local atmospheric and surface temperatures.
This is said to have been caused by an increase in residential bulk from 60 per cent with floor area ratio (FAR) 1:0.5 to 170 per cent from FAR 1: 1.7. FAR is used to limit the intensity of land use to lessen environmental hazards.
Islamabad and its surrounding territory is exposed to a host of factors accelerating climate change impacts such as marked changes in the intensity, frequency and variability of temperature, precipitation, floods, draughts and cyclones.
Excessive amounts of atmospheric aerosols, ozone depleting substances emitted by industries, brick kilns, stone crushing units and automobiles exceed the permissible limits prescribed under the national environmental quality standards in the urban areas.
This was revealed in a study titled Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment of Islamabad launched by the United Nations Human Development Programme (UN Habitat) at the Ministry of Climate Change on Friday.
The report says that the extreme events recorded so far in Islamabad include a highest maximum temperature of 46.6 degree centigrade on June 24, 2005 and the lowest at -4.3 degree centigrade on December 1984. In 2001, the heaviest rainfall was recorded at 621mm falling in just 10 hours. An analysis of climate change trends from 1961 and future projected scenarios up to year 2100 revealed that temperature has become substantially warmer.
The mean annual temperature change in the capital from 1960 to 2010 was by one degree centigrade whereas in the central area the temperature rise in the same period has been 3.5 degrees centigrade. “This temperature rise is double the global average,” the reports said.
The climate change impacts have been aggravated due to human-induced actions which are the root cause of global warming, said the report, adding that Islamabad presents an ideal case for triggering and intensifying climate change impacts due to a significant violation of the city’s original master plan. That plan provided provision to preserve and enhance ecological conditions, particularly in Zones III, IV and V, but several revisions in the master plan relaxation were allowed.
The report also states that in absence of proper planning and development of effective rainwater drainage systems, urban flooding occurs roughly once every three years as a result of overflow of the Nullah Leh which causes loss of human lives and damages properties.
An estimated 45,000 vehicles are being registered annually in Islamabad while the CO2 emission from consumption of diesel/petrol and CNG in the transport sector is estimated at 3 million tonnes per year.
It was also estimated that the emission of greenhouse gases from brick kilns, other industries, transport and land use change in Islamabad and Rawalpindi is about one billion tonnes per annum.
Health related climate change impacts in Islamabad and the ICT is evident from increasing number of respiratory skin and eye diseases.
The government has been urged to take an urgent review of the city’s mater plan and building by-laws to incorporate climate change concerns and adopt a smart planning process.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2015.
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