ISLAMABAD: The Committee on the Climate Change Caucus has taken note of the lack of coordinated directions and cooperation between federal and provincial government departments with regard to mitigating climate change challenges.

The chair, Senator Sherry Rehman, said during a meeting on Tuesday: “The Ministry of Climate Change still does not have clear aims and objectives to mitigate the impacts of climate change, especially when Pakistan is the seventh most vulnerable country to effects of rapid global warming.”

The committee met for a briefing by provincial environmental protection agencies (EPA) to assess their performance, only to find that these organisations are trying to function in the absence of resources and finances.

Climate change parliamentary body notes lack of coordination, cooperation between depts

Senator Rehman said climate change continues to be a low priority area, adding: “It seems like all actions taken by provincial EPAs are random, unorganised and personally motivated.”

Nonetheless, the heads of all the provincial agencies reported tackling concerns to the best of their abilities, from forcing steel mills and cement factories to comply with environmental regulations, convincing brick kiln owners to do away with century old brick-making practices and banning the use of plastic and oxy-biodegradable plastic bags across the country.

The directors general of all the EPAs also pointed to low quality fuels such as diesel as a major cause of air pollution.

Punjab EPA Director General Sayeda Maleeka said that she, like other agencies, was coordinating with oil refineries and asking them to produce Euro II standard diesel in the country.

“Vehicular emissions, especially from trucks and buses and other heavy machines, will continue to be a problem until we switch to better quality diesel. It has already been implemented for petrol cars,” Ms Maleeka said.

Mohammad Bashir Khan, the head of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa EPA, said his office was trying to convince the owners of more than 90 brick kilns to switch to Nepalese zigzag technology, which has been further perfected by India, to ensure 100pc of fuel is burned while saving around 30pc of coal.

“Zigzag brick kiln technology costs anywhere between Rs2 million to Rs2.5m, but the costs can be recovered in about six months,” Mr Khan said.

Directors general also said they were tightening the reins around steel mill owners to install bag air filters for their emissions.

Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq insisted on the frequent exchange of ideas and best practices between provincial agencies, something Senator Ateeq Shaikh echoed when he called for uniform policies from the federal.

Climate Change Secretary Nasir Jamil assured the senators that there would befrequent and regular interaction between provincial departments to counter the effects of climate change.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2019

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