ISLAMABAD: The Saudi government has announced to plant 10 billion saplings, following in the footsteps of the PTI government’s Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam.
“Pakistan has offered Saudi government technical support for its implementation of the programme,” Mr Aslam said at a press conference here on Sunday.
However, his press conference focused more on responding to the allegations from opposition party members. He urged the opposition party members to refrain from politicising the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami initiative, which he said was to ensure survival of future generations. He lamented PPP leader Sherry Rehman’s tweet in which she criticised the government for cutting its budget to combat climate change.
“Last year, the government spent Rs7.5 billion on the plantation campaigns. This year, Rs5 billion have been utilised in plantation drives and requested for another Rs5 billion, which have been approved by the government,” he said.
Drawing a comparison with previous governments’ spending to conserve the environment, Mr Aslam said that while the PPP had allocated Rs150 million, compared to the present government’s Rs10 billion on plantation drives, “The PML-N government had set aside Rs300 million to conserve the environment.”
He also responded to criticism on social media as to why Pakistan was not invited to a climate conference of 40 nations. After rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change, the US had invited countries that were contributing to global warming, including 17 nations with high carbon footprints, and that excluded Pakistan.
“The other countries invited to the conference are island nations at a risk from rising sea levels,” he clarified.
He explained that Pakistan had a crucial role to play in the next United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He quoted world leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel and international platforms including World Economic Forum, that have recognised Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan for efforts to counter impacts global warming.
Pakistan is not a contributor to global warming, yet the impacts of global warming such as altered rain seasons and rising sea levels risked the future of the country. He urged the opposition party members to support the plantation drives that were for the conservation of environment for the generations to come.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2021