President Asif Ali Zardari has said that climate change and environmental issues had occupied centre stage at global level and directed the authorities concerned to take on concerted efforts to meet challenges relating to environment. He made these remarks during a briefing on Saturday on climate change. Dr Ishfaq Ahmad, Chairman of the Task Force on Climate Change gave a detailed briefing to the President.
The President said that although the global climate change had been a cause of concern for the past several decades but it had drawn attention of world governments, politicians, scientists, economists more recently. Zardari said that the issue of climate change had created new challenges in energy efficiency, renewable energy, water use, a-forestation, agricultural improvement, power generation and even disaster management.
He advised the government to adopt incentive based policies in all these areas for improving agricultural output increasing a-forestation and producing low cost, adequate and environmentally clean power. He said that the best way to involve the people in tackling climate change issues was to develop incentive based policies that attract private entrepreneur and general public.
The President said that climate change was one of those global issues for the tackling of which international assistance was readily available. He called for identifying the sources of international funding and co-operation to assist our government in areas such as efficient energy mix, increasing yield per acre and optimising the use of water as climate change issues.
The President said that developing countries like Pakistan would pay a heavy price tomorrow for inaction today. Decisions delayed are not problems avoided but are crises invited, the President said. He also called for studies to determine the most efficient, economical and environmentally clean energy mix for Pakistan. He said that studies carried out in the past in these areas should be examined and implemented wherever practicable.
The President also called for following up on the Environmental Protection Act that was passed by the Parliament about 15 years ago. He said that a strategy should also be devised for educating public opinion in the climate change and environmental issues to help implement the decisions made in these areas. He said that climate change and degradation of environment was not only a challenge but also an opportunity and advised the government to explore the opportunities.
He particularly identified water scarcity, land use and minimising damage to environment as the areas where we can seek and adopt models from other countries. Dr Ishfaq Ahmed said that eight working groups had been formed with 40 subject specialist on climatology, water, agriculture, energy, international co-operation for financial and technical support, economies, communication and awareness raising.
He said that the most serious challenges for Pakistan due to climate change were the threats to its water security and food security. Other challenge identified was increased health risks, increase in deforestation, risks to fragile marine and loss of bio-diversity.
The chairman of the task force recommended that we should devise and implement a national policy and plan of action on climate change, with ministry of environment as the focal point for co-ordinating these activities. He also recommended for setting up of a national council on climate change to oversee the efforts in all climate change related areas.