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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the rich countries to at least provide funds to countries such as Pakistan fighting against climate change because the rich countries’ contribution to carbon emission was huge.

Addressing the World Environment Day ceremony hosted by Pakistan on Saturday, the prime minister said that the rich countries, whose contribution to carbon emissions is huge, should take the responsibility, at least, to provide funds to the countries such as Pakistan, which are fighting against global warming.

He said that Pakistan’s contribution to the carbon emission is almost negligible, even less than one percent, but despite that the government has decided to take measures to deal with it.

By 2030, the prime minister added that Pakistan would be producing 60 percent electricity through renewable resources and 30 percent vehicles would be transferred to electricity and all these measures would help bring down pollution levels. The premier urged the nation that the entire country should go in one direction with respect to the decade of ecosystem restoration and plant trees and clean rivers for restoration of the ecosystem as it would have a positive impact on the economy of the country.

He added that it was an honour for him that Pakistan was hosting the World Environment Day ceremony.

“I am happy for my country because it emerged very quickly on the world environment map,” added the prime minister.

He further stated that the world is realising that Pakistan is among few countries that are concerned about the future of the coming generations and its efforts in this regard (to leave a better World) for the future generations are being acknowledged.

Just imagine, he said that since the creation of the country only 640 million trees were planted across the country by all the forest departments, while the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government alone had planted one billion trees during the five years.

He said that this was not the only painful thing but more painful was that the existing forests were destroyed in front of everyone’s eyes.

Jungles (forests) of Changa Manga, Kundian, Chichawatni, and Diplapur developed by British have been destroyed, and people have started encroaching forest land.

The prime minister said that no one had the realisation that the forests were an important asset for the coming generations but gradually jungles were destroyed and rivers were polluted ruthlessly.

He said that the world and Pakistan was being provided another opportunity under the UN decade of ecosystem restoration for course correction.

“If we don’t care about the ecosystem it would have grave consequences,” the prime minister said.

As stated by the UN Secretary General that global warming would lead to water issues, the prime minister said that in Pakistan, the provinces have already started fighting on water issues and the country would have serious problems in the future, if it did not take measures.

He said that countries such as Pakistan would be facing serious problem of water, if they did not prepare against global warming.

In Pakistan 80 percent of the water in the rivers comes from glaciers and glaciers are being badly affected by global warming.

The prime minister said other countries with dependence on glaciers such as India, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan would also be facing serious problem of water in the future.

He urged the world to begin work on the target of carbon emissions to avert water problems.

He further stated that “so far we have planted one billion trees for which forest guards deserve appreciation for taking on the most powerful timber mafia and rendered sacrifices. As many as 10 forest guards were martyred, while fighting against timber mafia and eventually timber mafia’s backbone was broken and province was able to plant one billion trees.”

The prime minister said that from another 10 billion trees, one billion have already been planted while in the remaining nine billion trees, the government would be in need of help from the entire nation.

The entire country has to participate in the tree plantation campaign, he urged.

“I want to involve the entire nation in the government initiatives for restoration of the ecosystem,” the prime minister said.

Apart from 10 billion trees, he said that Pakistan’s initiatives are wet land, (Recharge Pakistan) lakes can be recharged with the flood water, work on mangroves have been started, and local people have to be involved through provision of green jobs.

“We are going to make 14 new national parks for which special guards would be required and locals must be involved,” he added.

The rich countries whose contribution in carbon emission is huge have to take the responsibility to at least provide funds to countries such as Pakistan fighting against global warming, he added.

As the difference of resources is an issue for countries such as Pakistan, he said, and added that Pakistan has hardly arranged a $8 billion relief package for the people during the Covid-19 pandemic, while on the other hand, the US provided a $4,000 billion stimulus package to its population of 330 million people.

The prime minister said that the country is barely managing funds for 10 billion tree plantation as half of the tax collection is being used for debt servicing, and on the remaining half, there is a huge pressure because funds were required for human development, health, security, and development.

He said that those (rich) countries have been polluting the world more and they should take their responsibility to support all those countries fighting against global warming.

The prime minister said the UN Secretary General has repeatedly been urging the rich countries to take their responsibility in this regard.

APP adds: Telecast globally, the event featured the special messages of Chinese President Xi Jinping, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and address by Executive Director of the UN Environment Program Inger Anderson besides State Minister Zartaj Gul and SAPM Amin Aslam.

Held at the beautifully adorned Convention Center with themed green ambiance created by plants and decorations, the event was attended by the federal ministers, parliamentarians and diplomats from various countries.

A huge number of forest guards were also present who earned a big applause from the audience as the prime minister also widely acknowledged their efforts and sacrifices to help protect the environment.

The prime minister also urged the nation particularly youth to take responsibility of the environment friendly initiatives so that the world could fight back for ecosystem restoration during United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.

He said teachers in Pakistan should also create awareness on importance of trees to inculcate responsibility for environment conservation among them.

He said while carrying out any activity, people must consider its impact on future generations, though some countries had been taking care of their environment since its advent.

He said the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is an opportunity for the world to correct its course by fighting back the pollution, ensure clean water and reduce carbon emissions.

He seconded the words of Prime Minister of United Kingdom that the future generations would have to bear the cost if they failed to protect environment.

He said apart from measures introduced by Pakistan, some issues needed world’s attention to reduce carbon emissions leading to glacier melting posing threats to countries like Pakistan and Central Asia where rivers are fed by glaciers.

The prime minister said Covid-19 pandemic has made it clear that the world is interdependent with nothing bound by borders. Same is the case with global warming which is equally impacting the world in one way or the other, he added.

He said the whole nation would have to realize that tree plantation is good for their children’s future which help retain water, clean air, and restore wildlife as well as birdlife.

Khan apprised the gathering of his government’s future initiatives including Recharge Pakistan - to divert flood water to wetland for recharging water table and Mangroves forestation which would also absorb carbon besides doing other functions for a healthy environment.

He repeatedly called for public participation in the environment projects to make them stakeholders by giving them jobs and incentives, just like the ‘Ten Billion Tree Tsunami’ project which has provided 85,000 jobs so far.

He particularly lauded the Punjab government for converting brick kilns to zigzag technology which help control pollution level.

State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul said having planted first billion trees, the government was fully prepared to plant the rest nine billion trees.

The government is also about to launch a food security program for southern Punjab besides introducing a bill to encourage the youth’s participation in tree plantation by giving them an incentive of 20 marks in their studies.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said Pakistan has increased the protected areas by engaging the population.

He also highlighted the Green Bond and Nature Bond initiatives of Pakistan to provide the country with accelerated access to development financing and debt relief in exchange for meeting ecosystem restoration targets.

Earlier, in his message read out by Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated the government and people of Pakistan for hosting the global event.

He said the ecosystem restoration is essential to live in harmony with nature. He called for international community’s role in environmental protection and ensure the sustainable development.

Reiterating China’s commitment to environment preservation, Xi appreciated the government of Pakistan for its environment-friendly initiatives, adding, his country is ready to work with the host country on the subject.

Prime Minister of United Kingdom Boris Johnson, in his video message also spoke high of the “Ten Billion Tree Tsunami” project saying, “I salute what Prime Minister Imran Khan is doing. I think 10 billion trees is a huge campaign”.

He viewed that the Covid-19 pandemic is mother-nature’s revenge on humankind which has failed to maintain balance with nature. He called for redoubling the efforts to ensure environment protection and make a balance with nature.

Secretary General United Nations Antonio Guterres, in his video message, said the world is rapidly reaching the point of no return for the planet.

He said the world is faced with a triple environmental emergency –biodiversity loss, climate disruption and escalating pollution.

He said the climate change is risking the world in the form of food, water and resources scarcity as the degradation of the natural world is already undermining the well-being of 3.2 billion people – or 40 per cent of humanity.

He said the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration would help create millions of new jobs by 2030, generate returns of over US $ 7 trillion annually which would give results for eliminating poverty and hunger.

“So let today be the start of new decade in which finally we make peace with nature and secure a better future for all,” he remarked.

Executive Director United Nations Environment Programme, Inger Anderson, said the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is aimed at reversing the damages caused by the world to the environment.

“Pakistan is showing us a way. Prime Minister Imran Khan recently planted one billionth tree of Ten Billion Tree Tsunami. Bravo to all,” he remarked.

She said the test for Pakistan and all nations is to build the momentum and fulfil their commitment.

Referring to an analysis of Pakistan’s growing inclusive wealth due to forestation, she said Pakistan’s economy is moving in the right direction.

She urged Pakistan to keep delivering on its ambitious commitments and encouraged all other nations to follow Pakistan’s leadership and make this decade a roaring success.

President World Economic Forum Borge Brende said more than half of the world’s Gross Domestic Product is highly dependent on the nature. He said by 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people would suffer absolute water scarcity and a two-thirds of the world would be living under water shortages.

He said the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration is set to unleash a “global ecopreneurship”. He said the WEF offered youth leaders and innovators of all natures an opportunity to share the best solution for ecosystem restoration.

The event also featured the musical performance of artists from Balochistan on theme song of the World Environment Day as well as Abrarul Haq who enthralled the audience through his “Tere Rang Rang.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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