ISLAMABAD: Residents of the capital took part in an early morning bicycle ride on Sunday to promote action on climate change, alongside the World Wildlife Fund and the European Union, on Climate Diplomacy Day.

The cyclists began their journey from the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) and followed a designated route.

The ride was a symbolic gesture to raise awareness about curtailing the growth of greenhouse emissions by promoting eco-friendly modes of transportation.

“I feel the effects of climate change every day when I go for walks and hiking and when I ride my bicycle to work,” said Gerhard Fuss, a participant.

Egyptian Ambassador Fadel Yacoub, who also participated, said: “Fighting global warming is a collective responsibility. We all need to come together and confront the effects of climate change.”

The event then moved onto the screening of the documentary Thank You for the Rain, which follows a Kenyan farmer who began using a camera to capture the life of his family, village and the damage caused by climate change, five years ago.

When a violent storm throws him and a Norwegian filmmaker together, he transforms from a father to a community leader and to an activist on the global stage.

To highlight environmental awareness and to contribute towards a greater tomorrow, WWF Pakistan and the EU also launched a climate diplomacy art competition this year for students.

The theme for the competition was ‘The Challenges of Climate Change: Pakistan’s Youth on the Front Line’.

A total of 15 government schools and colleges from Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore participated, with each institute able to submit up to 10 pieces.

The best pieces were displayed on Sunday and the winner, Amna Ayyaz from Islamabad College for Girls F-6/2, received a cash prize and a certificate that declared her an EU Youth Climate Change Ambassador.

Jean-Francois Cautain, the ambassador of the EU, said the EU remains committed to the Paris Agreement and its full implementation, while progressing steadily with the finalisation of measures to reduce emissions by at least 40pc by 2030.

“The objective is to raise global climate ambition together with partners, in particular with those most exposed to the negative side effects of climate change.

“Climate change requires collective action and the EU will assist Pakistan, listed amongst the most vulnerable countries despite the low level of its global carbon emissions.”

WWF Pakistan Director General Hammad Naqi Khan also emphasised the importance of understanding the need for action to mitigate climate change.

“The phenomenon is real. We are experiencing an array of environmental shifts, infrequent weather events, untimely melt, glacial lake outburst floods and changes in animal and bird migration patterns, highlighting irrefutable linkages to climate change taking place in full effect,” he said.

Dr Ishrat Hussain, the adviser to the prime minister for institutional reforms and austerity, believed that awareness of the effects of climate change needs to be taken to the community level.

He said a similar documentary on the impact of climate change in Pakistan should be produced so the public can easily relate to it.

The EU marks Climate Diplomacy Day every year around the world with various events that highlight climate action in the EU and beyond.

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2018

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