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February 21, 2011

Draft of national climate change policy finalised

Opinion

February 21, 2011

Islamabad
The draft of National Climate Change Policy has been finalised after two years of deliberations and now the Environment Ministry would present it to the federal cabinet for final approval, the sources told ‘The News here on Sunday.
The sources said the recommendations in the draft would certainly test the government’s commitment as it has been proposed to go for alternative energy resources instead of using fossil fuel, considered one of the major reasons for environmental degradation.
The sources said the draft recommendations prepared by a core group of the Environment Ministry mainly focuses on two areas including adaptation and mitigation with an aim to enable the country to cope with fast increasing environmental challenges. One of the top officials of the Environment Ministry told this correspondent that continuity of casual approach towards environmental sector has now made economic managers and policy makers feel the heat as environmental degradation has started costing five per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in Pakistan.
He said when Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani was informed during a conference that the environmental degradation was costing five per cent of the GDP every year, he clearly appeared disturbed and directed them to make comprehensive report over the issue.
The sources said the recommendations stressed the need to invest in alternative energy resources because it could not only ensure production of electricity on cheap rates but also help mitigate adverse effects of the climate change.
An official said it is quite ironical that electricity was being produced through imported oil despite the fact that “we are rich in water resources and construction of dams can ensure adequate supply of electricity on cheap rates. Hydel based production of electricity can greatly help reduce atmospheric pollution in the country.”
The recommendations urged the government to initiate steps for introduction of

sharp and efficient fuel technology that would help reduce emission in the air.
The draft recommendations also stated to give serious thought to agriculture, water and forest sectors in the adaptation phase without which the current situation would fail to show any positive result.
Pakistan Strategic Environmental Assessment in 2006 revealed that the environmental degradation would cost the country at least 6 per cent of GDP. Now the latest studies showed that 50 per cent of total damage to the national economy is due to air pollution, 30 per cent from inadequate water supply and sanitation facilities and 20 per cent due to soil degradation.
Though Pakistan has a commendable record of efforts to promote conservation and longer-term sustainability, from the national conservation strategy of 1992, through to the adoption of a national environment policy (NEP) in 2005, implementation of these initiatives remains a challenge.
Dr Seeme Mallick who acted as consultant for formation of climate change policy told this correspondent that the draft recommendations have been prepared in consultation with the provinces because implementation of the policy largely depends on the provincial departments. She said that draft of the national climate change policy would be presented to the federal cabinet that can make amendments or approve it in its current form.
Dr Seeme Mallick said Pakistan contributes just one-35th of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions but temperatures in the country’s coastal areas have risen since the early 1900s by 0.6 to 1 degree Celsius.
She said water supply, already a serious concern in many parts of the country, may decline dramatically affecting food production, export industries, agriculture, textile products and fisheries.
Director General (Environment Ministry) Jawed Ali Khan told ‘The News’ that they have given final shape to draft of national climate change policy and it would be presented soon to the federal cabinet for final approval.

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