Pakistan People’s Party promised in its 2013 manifesto to use the green economy framework to achieve sustainable development.
According to the Global Climate Change Index, Pakistan ranks as the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change. The country is predicted to lose $3.8 billion in the long-term. Besides destroying our agriculture with its implications for food security in the midst of a rapidly growing population, the rising sea-levels pose extra threat to the country’s financial backbone, Karachi. The threat to Karachi, which is predicted to be under water by 2060, are so severe that in 2016 Foreign Policy magazine declared climate change as a much bigger threat to Pakistan’s security than even terrorism.
Our mad rush for coal in Pakistan, at a moment when the world is transitioning away from its use, is a major contributor to climate change as well as source of pollution for our air and water.
The latest example is of the coal mining in Thar, which is currently destroying the livelihoods and water resources of the region – not to mention contributing to climate change. Local activists have termed the Thar Coal Project as the beginning of “coal cruelty” in Sindh –especially since Almas, a Sindhi poet, has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for campaigning against the construction of pipelines in the region.
United Nations Environmental Programme defines a green economy as one that results in improved human wellbeing and social equity. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one, which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. In a green economy, the aim is to achieve reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Investments done in these areas need to be supported by policy reforms and regulation changes. The development path should maintain, enhance and, where necessary, rebuild natural capital as a critical economic asset and as a source of public benefits, especially for poor people whose livelihoods and security depends on nature.
The concept of a “green economy” does not replace sustainable development, but there is now a growing recognition that achieving sustainability rests almost entirely on getting the economy right. Sustainability is still a vital long-term goal, but we must work on greening the economy to get us there. In many developing countries, one of the biggest opportunities to speed transition to a green economy is to invest in the provision of clean water and sanitation services to the poor.
Sindh Minister for Life Stock, Environment, Climate Change and Coastal Development department, Mr. Muhammad Ali Malkani said that: “Today’s over whelming participation is a manifestation of a hope that collectively we can make environmental protection possible; he said that there is a need to sensitize people regarding the significance of environmental care as we have a tendency to keep our houses clean but ironically we spread the litter in our neighborhoods.” He said that environmental degradation has a direct impact on human lives, since due to the implications of environmental degradation scores of lives indulge into severe health issues. He also talked about the miseries of tail-enders of the river Indus and said there is a need of spreading awareness among masses on environmental problems at grass root level. In this regard he narrated an example of a villager who was drinking polluted water and when asked that why can’t he boil the water he replied that he was poor.
When asked if his government was doing anything to improve the situation or to bring about reforms through greening the economy he said though the Sindh government was working on various projects it needs time to make any such claim.
Faisal Wada from Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf said, “With the kind of negligence the PPP government has shown in Karachi with respect to keeping the city clean, the party can do anything to bring green economy.” He further added that the petition on clean drinking water being heard in Supreme Court is an evidence that Karachi and the entire Sindh is in the clutches of bad governance where the lives of the people are under threat because of unhygienic lifestyle and waterborne diseases.
Rina Saeed Khan, an environmental expert said: “Although Pakistan’s current carbon emissions are negligible, as a responsible member of the international community that has now signed the Paris Agreement the country has to do its share as the world transitions to low carbon pathways. At any rate, coal is going to become more expensive as the Paris Agreement comes into effect. The burning of coal accounts for nearly 50pc of global energy related carbon emissions and is one of the main drivers of climate change.” She further added that Pakistan was also investing in polluting coal power projects that were to be built as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. “These projects are now facing growing opposition, as they should, because coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels.”
The promise by the PPP stands compromised as nothing substantial has been done so far that could be counted as green economy.