With the country facing severe environmental hazards like floods, the federal government is moving at a snail s pace to approve the first-ever National Climate Change Policy prepared by the Ministry of Environment in April before its devolution under the 18th Amendment, sources said here on Thursday.
According to sources, the draft proposals are currently lying with the Planning Commission, which is now responsible for the affairs related to the climate change but no effort has so far been made to present it in the federal cabinet.
They claimed that when the Ministry of Environment prepared the draft, the federal cabinet even refused to have discussion over it on the pretext that the devolution process would not allow such things at the federal level.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan suffered worst floods in living memory last year when a massive cascade of waters, triggered by heavy monsoon rains in late July, swept through the Indus River basin, washing away homes, roads, bridges, crops and livestock. It ploughed a swathe of destruction from north to south and submerged one-fifth of the country.
A top government functionary, who requested anonymity, told this scribe that the draft policy would never be approved either at the federal or provincial level because it is not possible for both federal and provincial governments to implement 120 steps given in the draft to ensure a better plan to address the issue of climate change.
He pointed out one of the steps that according to him would annoy influential circles because it recommended giving preference to import natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) over import of oil from foreign countries.
He said that the draft stressed on the vertical instead of horizontal expansion of urban housing projects and improvement in town planning design principles for lower carbon footprints besides ensuring check on rural-to-urban migration, development of infrastructure and support for facilities in smaller agro-based towns.
The necessary expansion of nuclear power was also recommended for Pakistan s energy security and promotion of renewable energy resources to cope with growing challenge of climate change and global warming.
One-UN Joint Programme on Environment (JPE) provided the necessary funding for formulation of the National Climate Change Policy that is product of the team led by Dr. Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, former director general of the Pakistan Meteorological Department.
Dr. Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry told this scribe that he would also complete the Action Plan for the National Climate Change Policy, irrespective of it that its draft has so far not been approved by the federal cabinet.
He said the draft policy was prepared in consultation with provinces and its implementation would certainly help avoid environmental hazards currently claiming lives and damaging ecological settings in various parts of the country.
To a question, he denied the impression that the federal and provincial governments are not interested in implementation of the draft policy, saying: I hope the federal government would approve the National Climate Change Policy and the provinces would also implement it.