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‘We are responsible for the adverse global climate change’

Karachi

May 5, 2019

We have poisoned our atmosphere by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide which accumulates in the atmosphere has raised average temperatures worldwide.

This warning was sounded by Dr Tariq Banuri, chairman, Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, Islamabad, in his keynote address, delivered at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Friday at the beginning of a two-day conference on climate change, titled, “Climate change: an existential challenge for Pakistan”.

In his highly erudite discourse, he said the indiscriminate pumping of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere had raised the temperature in Pakistan by 0.6 degrees centigrade, as in other places around the globe too. Besides, he said, climate change was a threat multiplier.

“The poison that we’ve introduced will take centuries to end. So, for all practical purposes, we may conclude that that climate change is there to stay,” said Dr Banuri.

Another factor which, he said, what was creating an environmental was the crisis of burgeoning population and this population expansion, he said, had caused a water shortage.

Dr Banuri said that the only way to control the environmental rot was: cooperate. What he meant was that all concerned agencies and individuals would have to cooperate to beat the crisis.

He said that we must get it straight that the climate change is real, the change is already happening, and the change is here to stay.

He said that there was 99 percent probability that we had caused the climate change.

There were, however, positive portents too, he said. The crippling famines that were common towards the early 19th century were not there anymore. The world was now feeding itself.

Average life expectancy had increased. Child mortality rate had gone down considerably, people’s standards of living had improved. However, he said, we risked the return of all these curses with the unbridled climate change.

The existential threat, he said, stemmed from prosperity, disasters, energy shortages, finance and trade.

Talking about Pakistan’s climate policy, he cited the policy of the NCCP (National Climate Change Policy, which, unfortunately, he said, had shown no results.

He cited the Pakistan Climate Change Act, 2017, and he said that no council or authority in this regard had been formed. He said that for all practical purposes, a climate policy did not really exist.

He said that we must emulate the Chinese example, whereas up until 2000 the Chinese were not in this business at all, by 2005, they were exporting nuclear reactors and solar energy equipment with the result that they had gathered enough capital to further fuel their economic development. He called upon Pakistan to follow this example.

In his talk titled, ‘Some common concerns of Karachi’s citizens’, Dr Noman Ahmed, professor and dean, Faculty of Architecture, NED University of Engineering and Technology, mentioned that the heatwave of 2017 that claimed 65 lives and said that among the various reasons for these was unplanned densification of inner city areas, illegal land division without any governmental control, water inappropriately managed and distributed, natural creeks and storm drains being clogged with tons and tons of garbage, and no devolution, densification of inner city squatters and shrinking of spaces, and no urban planning policy.

Water outlets in Boating Basin and China Creek, he said were flooded with raw sewage from Katchi Abadis in the vicinity.

Earlier, Dr Masuma Hassan, chairperson, PIIA, in her welcome address, said: “We have convened this conference because climate change is considered to be the greatest threat to our planet in the 21st Century. While many governments may have dragged their feet, people have mobilised against it. Young people have gone on school strikes and taken to the streets to draw attention to the disasters of climate change.”

She cited the case of Greta Thunberg whose activism had led her to address the highest for a on the issue, the World Economic Forum, the European parliament, and the United Nations.

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