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Experts unanimously agree upon need for national climate change awareness plan

Islamabad, September 13, 2015 (PPI-OT):Experts unanimously emphasized the need for hammering out a national climate change awareness plan to boost Pakistan’s response to climate risks and build up climate resilience through adaptation measures in various socio-economic sectors, particularly water, energy and food.

At a first meeting of think-tank on climate change – consultative group on climate change – held in the climate change ministry, the climate change scientists, policymakers, planners and academicians said that engaging media should be at the heart of the climate change awareness campaign.

Convener of the meeting, Former Director-General Pakistan Meteorological Department Dr Qamar uz Zaman Chaudhry, said that at present disaster risk reduction, upcoming sustainable development goals that will replace Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015 and UN-led global climate conference to be held later this year in Paris are leading the global discussions and top key experts are calling for pressing need for a strong global response to global warming caused by climate altering carbon emissions and disaster management programmes to mitigate negative impacts of the climate change.

“Dealing with vagaries of climate change direly requires scientists, academicians, policymakers, technologists and political leaders to play their effective part and none of us can afford laxity in this regard at any level,” he highlighted.

Shedding light on unprecedented importance of the global climate conference to save earth from more intensified and devastating effects of global warming, he told the participants that the world is keenly looking towards an ambitious, just and viable agreement to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degree Celsius.

The climate negotiations journey on the road to Paris appears tough, but if countries walk together, they will advance towards building a sustainable future for the planet. In this journey, parties must take into account the needs and demands of the poorest and the most vulnerable countries like Pakistan.

Dr Chaudhry said that present government is doing all-out efforts to deal with climate risks, though much of these efforts go unnoticed because of lack of awareness about the efforts. “For instance, five to seven percent of the national budget is being spent on climate change-related initiatives including development of hydro power sector and investment in solar and wind energies, which are clean, cheap and environmental-friendly energy sources,” he said.

Chairperson Parliamentary Task Force on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Mariam Aurangzeb, spoke at length about various options climate change adaptation as a part of climate change resilience of the country.

Ms Aurangzeb that climate change has become now a top political and development issue at the global level, because the world has recognized that this is serious challenge to all development gains made over the years in different socio-economic sectors, mainly water, agriculture, energy and health.

“Which is why, the rich and poor countries are now under duress to rise above their personal agendas or interests and join hands together to cope with the common risk of global warming jointly and effectively,” she argued.

Lauding the role of ministry in raising Pakistan’s vulnerability case at the national and global forums, the MNA Maryam Aurangzeb urged other governmental and non-governmental sectors to join hands with the climate change ministry to make socio-economic sectors including water, agriculture, energy, health and education climate-resilient through well-thought and viable adaptation plans in these sectors.

Secretary Climate Change Ministry, Mr. Arif Ahmed Khan, highlighted possibility of extinction of various plant and animal species because extreme weather events in past, which again pose the risk to the very existence of humans and all sorts of the life on the planet earth.

“Dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago, after living on Earth for about 165 million years. Although the cause of their extinction is still a mystery, climatic change, diseases and changing plant communities could all have played a role,” he recalled and cautioned, “We are faced with the same risk to our very survival.”

This risk can be overcome with global community’s far-reaching response to the biggest unfolding risk of climate change in the present century, Mr. Khan highlighted. He said that in the aftermath of the devolution of the ministry of environmental following 18th amendment to the constitution in 2011, the ministry lost its very holding and powers. “But these powers can be gained by dint of viable suggestions/proposals emerging from the think-tank on climate change,” he commented.

The climate change secretary stress upon need for adequate budgetary allocations for tackling environmental degradation. Mr. Arif Ahmed Khan urged the forum to push the government to increase resource allocation to overcome climate change and environmental issues, which cost losses to the national kitty worth billions of rupees annually.

Director-General (Environment and Climate Change) Mr. Irfan Tariq, gave a detailed briefing to the participants about climate change issues, responses and negotiations preparedness for the upcoming global climate conference from Pakistan’s perspective.

He said that the ministry has been actively working on different initiatives for building up climate change adaptation in water, agriculture and livestock, health, forestry and biodiversity, disaster preparedness, energy, transport, forestry and industrial sectors.

“Different ministries and provincial departments have been already reached out in this regard for effective policy response to climate risks at the federal, provincial and district levels,” he told the participants. He said that the ministry is in advanced stage of finalizing the non-mandatory carbon emission roadmap called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which will be submitted by end of this month to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The roadmap would outline various adaptation and mitigation measures, which Pakistan is interested to actualize but are subject to availability of funding, technology and technical know-how transfer from international channels, Mr. Tariq elaborated.

Deputy Inspector General of Forest at the climate change ministry, Dr. Shahzad Jehangir, said that the ministry has thrashed out a first national forest policy, which will be soon moved to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for its approval before it is implemented.

“The policy envisages increasing the forest cover from 5% to 9% in the next 15 years. Other positive aspects include plans to establish cross border ecological corridors to protect and regenerate forests and offer financial incentives to forest communities to reverse deforestation.” he said.

Member Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, Ms. Raheela Durani, said that incorporating climate change into school curricula as a part of awareness initiative can prove effective. “Teaching environment and climate change in educational institutions will help bring about positive behavioural changes among youth towards climate change and environmental protection,” she argued.

Former director general climate change ministry Mr. Jawaid Ali Khan, Former secretary Senate Secretariat Islamabad Mr. Raja Muhammad Amin, Deputy Director General World Wide Fund for Nature – Pakistan Dr Ejaz Ahmed, MPA Punjab Assembly Ms Syed Uzma Qadri, Former professor of history at Quaid-e-Azam University Dr Dushka Saiyid also spoke on the occasion.

For more information, contact:
Muhammad Saleem
Deputy Director
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
Ph: 051-9245565
E-mail: moccpakistan@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.mocc.gov.pk/

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