ISLAMABAD: The British High Commission said on Wednesday that climate change is a major challenge in Pakistan, and acknowledged the immense challenge of the coronavirus. It said these issues cannot be tackled by governments alone, and organisations and individuals all have a role to play.

The United Kingdom has committed to supporting other countries by doubling International Climate Finance to at least £11.6 billion globally over the next five years. It has also assured Pakistan of its support to build back better, in a sound, sustainable and inclusive way.

British High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner has made a personal pledge to end his use of single use plastics.

“It is essential that we all build back greener from coronavirus. The cleaner air that we have seen in recent months is a reminder that poor air quality in cities like Lahore and Karachi costs lives.

As host of COP26 the UK is committed to supporting a green economic recovery and increasing global climate action. To support countries, such as Pakistan, the UK has committed to double our International Climate Finance to at least £11.6bn globally. Everyone has a role to play. That is why on this year’s World Environment Day 2020, I made a personal pledge to end my usage of single use plastics,” he said.

In a statement, the high commission said the coronavirus provides a stark reminder of what happens when humanity’s relationship with nature breaks down. However, it also offers an opportunity to protect and restore nature, reducing exposure to deadly viruses and climate impacts.

As well as supporting Pakistan’s work to tackle climate change, the British High Commission has been determined to reduce its own climate footprint since 2018, undertaking green activities such as rainwater collection storage facilities, with a total capacity to store 300,000 liters. The water is used to water plants at the high commission compound.

While solar panels are now powering the swimming pool and gym, the high commission also planted 100 trees in the compound in 2019, and is following the policy of planting five trees whenever one is lost in available space. The Technical Works Team (TWG) has also built recycling separation units, which were installed inside the residential compound.

The first #Beyond Plastics campaign was done in June 2018 during the first Greening Week. During that week, staff members and external guests did presentations on water and electricity management, local efforts to reduce plastic waste and increase recycling, and ideas on how to reduce waste and water and electricity use at home. In that week the high commissioner’s canteen announced the complete ban of plastic straws and glasses for their take away.

Other initiatives included removing single use plastic cups from most areas in offices, residences and staff cafeteria. It also offset carbon emissions produced as part of the travel during the royal visit last year, and reduced single use plastic during the royal visit by providing reusable mugs, water bottles, lunch boxes and tote bags made from recycling old banners in the office.

Besides complete ban on plastics, in another campaign, the high commission said it was joined by six other diplomatic missions, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, and together they raised environmental awareness while maintaining a clean and green Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad.

The DiploGreen’s launch event also supported Islamabad’s plastic-free campaign announced by the Ministry of Climate Change on August 15. The high commission said it plans to recycle waste by segregating waste in offices and residential compounds and recycling them through local initiatives. It also aims to plant more trees and contribute to increasing Pakistan’s forest cover this year.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2020

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