LAHORE: A good number of people demonstrated on Friday from the press club to Alhamra against global warming and climate change.
Such marches happening nationwide were in synchronization with the climate strikes that are happening globally after protests by Swedish teenager Greta, who called for an end to issues creating disastrous effects on the world’s ecology.
Dawar N Butt, one of the organisers of the campaign, talked about demands in a climate manifesto drafted by the core committee which addressed issues faced by Pakistan as a whole, but there were also city-specific demands since all areas faced different issues. He gave the example of Lahore and other parts of Punjab suffering from smog and air pollution. Demands for Pakistan included declaring a climate emergency, demanding climate justice though a global coalition, adopting a low-carbon economy, and ensuring the grass root level climate adaptation efforts.
“Our demand from Lahore is to declare this air pollution a public health emergency,” he said.
“We need to have a zero carbon trajectory to stop the issue of smog.” Dr Veerta, WAF member, said that global warming increased heat which gave conditions for bacteria to multiply faster. Diseases like malaria and dengue were on the rise, and women were the most vulnerable to these being exposed to conditions like dirt. “Women need to be empowered to battle climate change and its effects,” she said.
In Pakistan, temperatures associated with global warming have increased by 0.5°C while sea level has risen by 10 centimeters in the last 50 years.
“I’m here to protest against these emissions against the usurping factory owners who have destroyed our environment,” said grade nine student Kashif. “Our generation is the most affected because we are the future.”
At the final sit in, slogans were chanted for the release of Babajan of Gilgit, who has been termed a ‘climate prisoner’, and has been arrested for protesting for the devastation caused by the flooding of Attabad Lake. His sister Nazneen, spoke about the strife people had faced losing their homes and then upon protesting being fired upon. Students read out their poetry and made speeches. Leila Alam who is known on Youtube as ‘eco batcha’ said she had been trying to make a fuss since ages on the issues of air pollution and smog trying to make a change. “Climate change is toughest issue of all time, and even a toddler can see the solution to this problem,” she said.
Mohammad Faheel Haider, A level student, said that the turnout in the march, especially of youth, showed “we will not bow down to power structures who are creating this injustice”.
Another student Zainab said young people had more power than they realized. Mohsin Abdali from Huqooq-e-Khalq Movement questioned the progress that was happening, when the rivers that defined the country were drying up leaving behind a toxic pool of sludge.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2019