ISLAMABAD, July 27: Operations of the clean development mechanism cell of the Ministry of Climate Change have come to a standstill after services of its staff were terminated.

The cell, on the fifth floor of a government building, gives a deserted look with stacks and stacks of files but no technical staff to go through them.

On July 1, 2012, the ministry ended contracts of the eight specialists in the field of carbon credits working in the cell. The employees had gone nine months without salaries but were paid a few days before their services were ended.

The termination, according to officials in the ministry, had come at a bad time especially when Pakistan had till December 31, 2012, to register as many projects with the United Nations Frame Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to earn maximum carbon credits.

“It is a panic situation for both the ministry and the private companies who had been running around to make the cell work and get projects registered,” said a senior environmentalist in the Ministry of Climate Change, explaining how in desperate measures the new ministry was phoning the laid off of CDM staff to return to office to get basic paperwork done.

Besides spreading awareness about the international carbon markets, the cell had been providing necessary support to stakeholders (in reducing Green House gasses) by identifying, developing, marketing and managing of CDM projects for companies generating power, working in renewable energy solutions, weaving mills and solid waste disposal to mention some.

It has helped Pakistan generate money by reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

“The ministry is in the process of hiring again but there is very little time — at least three to four months for advertising, evaluation, short listing followed by tests and interviews — that too on a fast track basis that is less likely,” the official said, elaborating how at least two to three projects were landing at the CDM cell for registration with the UNFCCC on a daily basis.

With nearly 50 projects approved by the CDM cell for registration with UNFCCC, there were 11 new projects waiting approval of the Ministry of Climate Change, including five wind power generation programmes (that once approved before December 2012) would fetch Pakistan 20 million Euros over the next 10 years.

Karachi-based Arif Alam, who is a CDM consultant in a private company Axis Environmental Services, explained why meeting the deadline was important as he gave reasons to hustle.

“There is news that the date to register projects has been extended from December 31, 2012, to the 2020.

But the extension comes with the condition that countries failing to register before December 31 will not be permitted to trade carbon credits in the European Union which is the most lucrative market,” the consultant said.

When Director General Ministry of Climate Change Jawed Ali Khan was asked to comment on how soon the cell would become operational again, he said: “We are trying to deal with the situation.

The staff had to be sent home because they were irregularly hired.

However, we are keeping the ball rolling. There is a meeting next week in the ministry to analyse the 11 new projects for registration.”

He asserted that there was no way that the ministry was letting the CM cell close down.

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