“We are in a race against time. The era of consumption without consequences is over.
— UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
Global warming refers to increase in the average temperature of the earth’s surface. There is a general consensus among the scientists that its principal cause is the burgeoning use of fossil fuels which release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. In order to address this burning issue, 195 countries adopted the much-cherished Paris Agreement on 12th December 2015. This agreement was in fact the culmination of years of negotiations on a near-universal level to address the issue of the climate change. The Paris Agreement was opened for signature by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on 22 April — the Earth Day — and will remain open for signature for one year. On the very first day of its opening, 175 countries signed this historic agreement.
Pakistan also signed the Agreement during the ceremony held at the United Nations headquarters in New York. While addressing the international community after signing the Agreement, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, assured the world that Pakistan is strengthening its institutional structures to step up action to stave off the most drastic effects of climate change. He was confident that a comprehensive approach would enable Pakistan to contribute to the global mitigation efforts against climate change aimed at keeping the temperature rise below 2 degree centigrade.
Pakistan is among the countries hard hit by the curse of climate change, and its agriculture is the first casualty of this phenomenon. This sector plays a pivotal role in the economic growth of the country but due to adverse impacts of climate change in form of floods, soil erosion, unusual weather conditions, agricultural productivity of the country is on the decline. However, there are some issues which should be taken into consideration while drawing up policies.
Firstly, Pakistan’s contribution to world’s total carbon emissions is much lesser than that of the developed countries. This is proved from the fact that the country is already mired in an acute energy crisis. Hence, it isn’t fair to blame Pakistan for environmental pollution.
Secondly, Pakistani delegation should have demanded some compensation from the international community because to put the wheel of economic development in motion, it needs to consume energy more than the threshold level.
Thirdly, countries across the globe are increasingly adopting green technology as it is likely to bring about many positive results. The other side of the coin, however, is that all developed countries are discarding their depleted technology by exporting it to underdeveloped countries. So, Pakistan should go for green technology rather than importing the obsolete technology and face the hazards thereon.
Fourthly, burning of coal is considered the principal source of carbon emissions. Coal of Thar is thought of having high sulphur content. Moreover, the cost of using this coal for energy production is also higher than the cost that would be incurred on renewable sources of energy.
Fifthly, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has brought investments of $34 billion in the energy sector alone. The high sulphur content of Thar coal may create problems. International regulations regarding the coal content may also discourage the foreign investment.
So, it is highly advisable that all these factors should be considered while formulating Pakistan’s policies on environment as well as economy.
Written by: Zeeshan Raouf