KARACHI: “Climate change affects us all. It is a global issue and we should join global efforts to help prevent or slow it down,” said Amra Javed during her welcome address at a workshop organised by Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment on ‘Strategy of responsible conversion’ on Thursday.

Speaking in detail on the subject of ‘Green building — energy efficient and climate protective infrastructure development’, she said that Pakistan has a capacity of 50,000 megawatts for wind energy, which the government has hardly tackled though it is cheap and clean energy.

She also added that the country has 2.93 million megawatts capacity for solar energy yet the government’s policies are flawed as they have built solar parks in wrong places.

Sindh, other provinces urged to plant more trees

Coming to geothermal energy, she informed that there was a capacity for 60,000MW with 300 abandoned wells of gas and oil which could be utilised for it but the government didn’t seem interested.

About hydropower, she said that Pakistan already produced 21,100MW of electricity through it, yet power here is expensive due to corrupt practices.

“It is sad that there are no big investments in the energy sources mentioned while the government invests instead in coal power despite being a signatory to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. China closed its coal plants and Pakistan bought their obsolete plants due to which the people here are already in distress as agriculture in Sahiwal has been ruined and the health of the people there suffers,” said Ms Javed.

“Pakistan is among the top 10 countries most affected due to climate change so why not make policies to see the least impact of climate change on us?” she questioned.

Deforestation causing widespread devastation

Ms Javed also spoke about the importance of trees. “They take in the carbon dioxide from the air so we need more trees. There is 15 per cent more pollution in the air due to deforestation here. A remedy is to plant more trees as is being done in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan also need to follow suit.”

For further improvement in the immediate environment, she suggested rooftop gardens, grey water tanks, environment-friendly structures with skylights, wind-catchers, LED lights, etc. “Reduce, reuse, refuse and recycle,” she stressed.

Organic farming

Muzzamil Niazi, CEO of Sungold Organic Vegetables, who said that by training he was an aerospace engineer, shared his 10-year experience of running his farm spread over less than six acres in Deh Kakar in Malir. “We are growing vegetables and grains following the organic regime,” he said.

“The water is supplied by tube well from a 400ft deep aquifer. We test the water every six months to make sure that it is potable and irrigation is carried out through a combination of pipes and channels,” he shared.

“In the past 10 years we have experienced erratic weather patterns, shortage of water and electricity after which we decided to bring in the method of drip irrigation, mandatory mulching and reducing the land engaged in vegetable farming while shifting some land to fodder production and organically raising broilers, egg layers and goats, as well as convert to solar power as the primary source of energy,” he said.

Tofiq Pasha Mooraj, another organic farmer, then spoke about how badly the city and its people are affected by pollution and yet turn a blind eye to it. “There are cars and motorcycles emitting smoke and the mother sitting at the back of such a motorcycle with her little baby won’t even think about covering his nose and mouth with her dupatta,” he said.

“There is untreated waste being channelled into the sea, there are polythene bags burning in the garbage, there is littering on the beaches but if I start gathering the trash, I am asked why I do it?” he said.

“Our water will finish, the glaciers will melt and we will depend on rainwater, but no one cares to conserve water here. Our people have become desensitised to such issues. We know the problems, we know what their solutions are but are we doing anything about it? This is the reality of our country today.

“We have eaten ourselves out of our own resources. Human beings on earth are the most sustainable thing consuming their own resources,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2017