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September 16, 2019

Call for declaring climate and ecological emergency


September 16, 2019

During a discussion on the impact of climate change on marginalised communities — an event which was organised by Aurat Haq at the Frere Hall on Sunday — the participants of the discussion forum called for declaring climate and ecological emergency.

In a statement issued by the organisers, they demanded that by 2025, 15 per cent of Karachi’s energy come from renewable sources, coal-based energy generation be completely phased out, and 25 per cent of the city’s streets, sidewalks and neighbourhoods be walkable and designed to promote bicycling to reduce the use of automobiles.

The participants called for incentivising the use of renewable energy through financial and allied measures at the level of both public and private sectors, and developing and implementing an urban forestry project for Karachi.

They said that by 2025, 25 per cent of the city should have green cover, and the mangrove cover must be increased by 25 per cent of the existing cover. They also said that a comprehensive inventory of the ecological and wildlife of Karachi should be prepared and annually updated as well as steps must be taken to protect the flora and fauna of the city.

They demanded an immediate ban on and the criminalisation of new plantations of invasive Conocarpus, date palm and eucalyptus trees, and the revival of urban agriculture in rural Karachi by 2030 to the extent that 50 per cent of edible food needs of the city are met locally.

The participants called for a complete ban on single-use plastic items and plastic shopper bags in the city by 2020 along with the provision of environment-friendly alternatives for users as well as proper financial compensation for the people associated with the trade of plastic bags.

They said that by 2025, 75 per cent of the city’s wastewater should be recycled and used to promote urban forestation, while by the end of 2020, vehicle monitoring and maintenance centres must be established across the city.

They also said that any vehicle that does not comply with the emission and noise standards should not be allowed to ply on the roads, with strict control on the provision of high-quality fuel and the prevention of adulterated fuel supply.

They demanded enacting building construction and zoning laws that take into account factors such as urban heat island effect as well as updating the city town planning laws to incorporate the requirements specific to climate change-sensitive urban planning.

The participants called for 25 per cent of Karachi’s streets, sidewalks and neighbourhoods to be designed to promote walking and bicycling by 2025 to reduce the use of automobiles and for road-widening practices to be stopped completely.

They said that by 2022, there should be a city-wide affordable sustainable transport network that is human-centred and gender-sensitised, while all new park projects in the city must be planned with tree cover and shade taken into consideration.

They also said that the existing parks and all future parks should be well-maintained and have free entry, with maintenance costs supported by taxes, while a viable parking management plan must be prepared and fully implemented in the city by 2022.

They demanded that by 2022, all industrial estates in the city ensure that all industrial units in their jurisdiction have installed industrial effluent treatment and air quality control treatment facilities fully complying with the National Environmental Quality Standards.

The participants called for open burning of garbage to be made a punishable criminal activity with immediate effect, as well as open burning of garbage at the city’s landfill sites to be terminated with immediate effect, while proper collection and transport of garbage to become an integral part of a comprehensive solid waste management programme.

They said that by 2025, all organic waste generated in the city should be fully composted and used for plantation as part of the Karachi Urban Forestry Project, while 50 per cent of the city’s generated solid waste must be recycled and reused, which includes establishing waste-to-energy practices.