SHORTLY after taking office, Prime Minister Imran Khan planted a deodar sapling in Haripur to inaugurate his government’s ambitious ‘10 billion tree tsunami’ plantation drive in 2018. To counter the threat of climate change, the PTI government announced that it would plant 10bn trees within five years. Three years later, the prime minister returned to the site he launched his campaign from to inspect progress and speak to the media about his government’s commitment to protecting the environment. Even if the figure is contestable — 10bn trees means planting millions of seeds a day over a five-year tenure — there is little denying the importance of large-scale tree plantation drives, as sea levels rise and the planet warms at an alarming rate. Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our times, and a transnational one, and yet not many governments around the world treat it with the urgency it deserves, prioritising short-term economic growth over the planet’s well-being. The previous year saw record high temperatures, melting glaciers, flash floods, wildfires, and a host of other disasters, which can only be described as apocalyptic, especially when combined with a global health crisis. Several cities across the United States experienced their hottest summers in recorded history, while Siberia went through a six-month-long heatwave, with temperatures rising up to 38˚C. Bushfires raged through Australia, exterminating billions of animal species, destroying thousands of buildings, and taking at least 34 human lives. In Brazil, the Amazon rainforest saw its worst fires in a decade. Here in Pakistan, Karachi was paralysed under record-breaking monsoon rainfall, receiving 223mm of rain in a single day, while several parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa experienced flash floods, and Gilgit-Baltistan was shaken by a massive landslide following heavy rain. At the end of the year, in his State of the Planet speech, UN Secretary General António Guterres put it bluntly: “The state of the planet is broken.” Can it be repaired?

According to FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020, 440m acres of forest has been lost in a span of one decade — “an area about the size of Libya”. Pakistan is said to have one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, and it is also one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change, so it is encouraging to see the government put the environment on top of its agenda.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2021

Opinion

Casualties of war
17 Sep 2021

Casualties of war

As we ruminate over the consequences of America making a mockery of international law, it is equally important to take an inward
Love of wealth
17 Sep 2021

Love of wealth

Those obsessed with wealth are likely to be involved in corrupt practices.
Pro-rich growth
Updated 17 Sep 2021

Pro-rich growth

An intellectually honest prognosis of our political economy for the working class makes for grim reading.

Editorial

TTP amnesty?
Updated 17 Sep 2021

TTP amnesty?

An amnesty should be for some individuals, not the entire outfit.
17 Sep 2021

Media regulation

THE needless controversy over media regulation may finally be heading for a resolution. In a meeting with ...
17 Sep 2021

Refusing audit

THE continuous resistance put up by several public-sector organisations to submitting their accounts for audit by ...
Aid for Afghans
16 Sep 2021

Aid for Afghans

Humanitarian aid can resume even if the world decides to hold back on formal recognition of the regime for now.
16 Sep 2021

Wheat price

THE government’s decision to raise the wheat release price, or the rate at which provinces issue their grain ...
16 Sep 2021

Keeping the press out

ON Monday, the government yet again displayed its rising contempt for the freedom of press — this time in...