ISLAMABAD: WWF Pakistan held its seventh annual Green Office Conference in the capital on Tuesday which focussed on the theme of air pollution.
The one-day event was attended by corporate partners, public sector leaders, academia and industry practitioners from across the country.
The aim of the event was to turn the tide and establish a consensus between relevant public and private sectors on the roles, responsibilities and actions needed to improve air quality.
Welcoming the participants, WWF Pakistan Director General Hammad Naqi Khan said: “Lahore and Karachi are among the 10 most polluted cities in the world in terms of air quality according to AirVisual, an air quality monitor. The ranking today puts Lahore on top of the list with urgent action needed to tackle this issue.”
He pointed out that air pollution was caused by traffic, industries and burning of crop and solid waste, which were major contributors to smog. The layer of smog is expected to thicken in the coming days, he added.
“Urban air pollution in the country is among the world’s most severe, significantly damaging human health, quality of life, economy and environment,” Mr Khan told participants.
Following his address, energy and air pollution analyst, Green Peace, Lauri Myllyvytra shared his research on the prevalent air quality of Pakistan’s leading cities.
He also gave an insight into the actions and framework followed by countries such as China, the US and some countries in the European Union in tackling smog.
Environmental Protection Department (EPD) Director General Syeda Malika elaborated on the current smog policy and shared highlights from the Punjab Clean Air Action Plan.
Syeda Malika claimed: “Smog is a form of severe air pollution, when air quality changes drastically.
The EPD records the Air Quality Index every day and takes stern actions against violators. Industrial units, brick kilns or any unit found polluting air are sealed unless they have air pollution control systems installed.
Burning of solid waste and crop stubble is banned and FIRs are registered against the violators. So far, the EPD has installed air quality monitors in Multan, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Lahore.”
As brick kilns are a big contributor to air pollution, the working dynamics and benefits of zig zag technology, which aims to decrease pollution, were presented by Associate Professor, Government College University, Dr Faiza Sharif.
A panel discussion comprising environment, health, industrial and agricultural experts was then conducted, which was moderated by journalist Rina Saeed.
During the discussion, issues around the social, economic and health impacts of smog were discussed.
Concluding the event, the chief guest, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam gave an insight into the Clean Green Pakistan Initiative.
He claimed: “The government has already taken concrete steps, including planting trees, banning brick kiln operations and shifting brick kiln industry towards zig zag technology.”
He said curbing open crop stubble and waste burning, controlling vehicular pollution, installation of scrubbers for polluting steel mills and most essentially monitoring local as well as cross border pollution movements, were some of the other initiatives.
He also awarded certificates of appreciation for substantial carbon emission reduction, under the WWF Green Office.
Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2018