We should definitely like to see Pakistan without any environmental problem but currently there are lots of challenges. The constant growth in population is another massive challenge. As we grow economically, we have to decide at this point in time that we ensure better quality of life. At the end of the day, when we have more money but our quality of life suffers and we can’t breathe and drink pure water, then it is not worth it.
Now the Government must show scores of commitment to guarantee that as we grow, we also ensure that the quality of life of our citizens is made better and we, as a country, might be called an environment friendly country. The government should announce the ‘National Environment Policy’ with considerably increase in the budget for environment.
Let us have a look at some of our burning environmental problems.
Deforestation – A lot number of forest trees are being cut in northern areas for timber as well as fuel wood. People must not cut trees and use wood as fuel. There are various bio diversities, climate change and other environmental problems which are linked with forestry.
In 1992 Government announced a policy against forest cutting and the cutting of forest was banned but that policy doesn’t seem to have been successful. It is suggested that the government should pass legislation for a sustainable harvesting of forest so that there’s a controlled management plan through which forestry can be saved. Local community also has to understand the value of forests.
Plantation is required in urban cities–There is no doubt that planting trees help in maintaining good environment. Trees in urban cities help clean environment and reduce pollution. Islamabad, for instance, is one of most protected cities of the world with lot of vegetation and clean healthy environment. So there is need to plant trees in other cities like Islamabad.
We do plant lots of trees every year but the problem is the nurturing of the plants. Trees must be considered as an essential item of environmental service. Even in our religion, trees have been given enormous importance.
Greenhouse effect & Pakistan – The planet has been affected in current times with the greenhouse gasses which is detrimental to maintaining life and sustainable environment on earth. Pakistan is a very small contributor in greenhouse effect, Pakistan contributes only 0.2% greenhouse gases of the whole world.
Pakistan is very much aware about it and has taken lead on this issue at the international level. Pakistan is party to the “Kyoto Protocol”, The Kyoto Protocol is a document signed by about 180 countries at Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997. The protocol commits 38 industrialized countries to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases between 2008 to 2012 to levels that are 5.2% below 1990 levels.
Industrial pollution – We need a cooperative compliance from the factories. The Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) should take a lead in this regard. It is the time to be strict with the industries that are not compliant. Now there’s a lot of pressure on factories from law of the land and from buyer because buyers are not buying from the parties who are not meeting environmental criteria. After the implementation of World Trade Organization, we have to meet the environmental standards and unless we do that we cannot export our goods abroad.
Environment is going to be a non-tariff barrier for all our exports and sooner the industries realize this the better it would be for them. There is also pressure from the lenders, almost all the banks of the world say that the industries that don’t meet the environmental criteria will not be given money. We must try to enforce the law of land and for that we have to start a voluntary self-monitoring program because it is not possible to send inspectors to every industry in the country. The industry owners should take the responsibility and provide data in this regard to relevant government agencies.
Exceed level of carbon monoxide in Megacities–Carbon monoxide emission levels in Karachi and Lahore have considerably exceeded World Health Organization’s recommended levels. It however happens only during crowded hours not 24 hours a day. We should be concerned about it and a Clean Air Program must be initiated to ensure safe level carbon monoxide emissions especially in megacities.
Running of old vehicles on road – It is also one of the causes of air pollution as these cars are not discarded and thus add their share in increasing the pollution. The “Clean Air Program” should also include old vehicle retiring program. In developed countries the older the car gets the more tax they have to pay. This incentive urges them not to keep old vehicles on road. In Pakistan, low income groups keep old vehicles that have no accurate standard of pollution controlling. We also need to strengthen the motor vehicle testing program in which private sector should be invited to setup testing stations and it should be made mandatory for cars to get fitness certificate every year without which they should not be allowed to come on roads.
Demand for Environmental Managers – There is a lot of demand for environmental managers especially from the lenders i.e. World Bank and Asian Development Bank. All these multilateral banks want to lend to Pakistan as well as want to ensure that the projects are also environmentally capable but we have very little proper professional capacity. NGOs have very good work and capacity with regards to raising awareness but they are not qualified researchers as such. We need to opt for environmental studies in our universities.
Youngsters, both male/female, should do Masters in environmental studies as this field has a great future in Pakistan. The government is increasing environment budget and they would need lots of people who are qualified in environmental studies. It is a new field and is going to grow without any doubt. As the world is also growing, it will create so many environmental challenges and lots of environmental managers would be in great demand in coming years. So it is highly recommended that youngsters, both male/female, should go for environmental studies.
Message for the youth – This environmental movement is your movement and we can fight environmental degradation through a movement because of the young people of Pakistan . If we want to make a better Pakistan for upcoming generation, youngsters, both male/female, should take part actively and learn about the environmental issues and try to tackle the problems. One of the best solutions to the environment is to change our bad habits of wastage of water, electricity and dispersal of garbage etc.
Writer: Engr: Muhammad Mustafa Khan
Department: Energy & Environment Engineering QUEST Nawabshah.