Environmental pollution and COP26 -The Nation

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The entire world is currently facing climate change. Many scenarios predicted to occur in future decades seem to be happening on Earth right now—cloudburst, sea-level rise, tsunamis, flash flooding in Germany and western Europe, intense heat waves in the US-Pacific northwest, Siberia and British Columbia, wildfires in California, Australia and Turkey and exacerbating concerns of megadroughts around the world.

It is clear that the world needs to be more concerned about climate change, but despite the conference of many world leaders, encouraging results are not forthcoming. It is very unfortunate that despite the Paris agreement of 2015, the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) has not been reduced. According to IPCC’s report by the United Nations Environmental Programme, GHG emissions have risen by six billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent, raising global warming to extremely dangerous levels. The share of developed countries in climate change is much higher than that of developing countries, but developing countries are being punished more because they do not have the means to deal with the phenomena that occur as a result of climate change. Pakistan is also among the countries that do not have a system to deal with the environmental crisis.

Despite limited resources, Pakistan is working to mitigate the effects of climate change. The government is planting 10 billion trees—a 10 billion tree tsunami plantation programme. One billion trees will be planted this year, while the first phase will be completed by 2023. The plan is to plant billions of trees, increase the use of renewable energy in the country by 30 percent to mitigate the effects of climate change, use solar energy for irrigation and measures to recycle plastic more than once via a chemical recycling system. Work is also underway at the government level on the development of an electric vehicle policy and other projects.

The PTI government’s initiatives and efforts are in place, but on the other hand due to climate change in Pakistan over the past decade, severe weather events including floods, droughts, eruption of glacier melting lakes, cyclones and heat waves caused the loss of human lives and severe damage to the national economy. Environmental pollution in Pakistan is wreaking more havoc than global climate change, from burning garbage across the country to factory emissions. There is no viable system to prevent smoke. Clouds of smoke rising from factory chimneys, smoke exhaust from millions of vehicles and industrial waste have polluted the sea. Now, Lahore ranks second in the air quality index with PM 2.5 concentration; 26 times above the WHO annual air quality standards. The elites involved in the lust for wealth contribute to environmental pollution rather than supporting eco-friendly gestures.

If the first world countries are not ready to change their ways even though they are well aware of the consequences of environmental pollution—how will the third world countries take environmental pollution seriously when they already have limited resources? One such experience could be highlighted in the World Leaders Summit at COP26 with the absence of China. Our country also has environmental departments, but the existence or non-existence of these departments is the same; it is the result of the cooperation of the officials of the environment departments that environmental pollution is increasing instead of declining. If the officials of the environmental departments ensure law enforcement will reduce its effects within a year, then our ecosystem will return to its original state. However, this environmental pollution is not a problem for anyone, it is a problem of the whole world and this problem can be solved only through joint efforts. It is imperative to take measures to eradicate pollution from the world as soon as possible. If we cannot eradicate pollution, then it will surely destroy us.