Despite, a meagre contribution to the global greenhouse emissions, Pakistan is one of the worst affected of the climate change. Lahore, which is the second biggest cities of the country often moves to the top spot in winter due to the worst air quality. Melting, glaciers, rising sea levels and rapid urbanization with no strategic infrastructure development cause flooding every year and damage to the agricultural land villages and property in the cities. Pakistan is also surrounded by India, and China; the countries who are one of the major contributors of CO2 emissions. Further, the country is also rapidly industrialising and thus increasing its reliance on the fossil fuel dependency.
Almost 80% of Pakistan’s energy comes from the oil and gas sector while a very small amount of it comes from the renewable resources; hence it is not difficult to understand that energy mix of the country is also one of the reasons for deteriorating environment.
Actions Taken by Government to Protect the Environment
Just like other countries civil society organizations are very vocal about the need to save nature and act cautiously to avert the tragedy that can jeopardize the lives. The government has taken certain steps; the notable amongst these are the billion tree tsunami projects and working on increasing the urban forest cover through the Miyawaki technique. Further, in few megacities a limited ban has been put on polythene bags. However, these few attempts seem nothing in faces of the massive crisis that the country is facing due to climate change.
Issues Related to Infrastructural Development
Another major problem that contributes to the environmental crisis and damage of natural spaces in Pakistan is related to the infrastructural development. Most of the developmental project in Pakistan are about widening or roads, constructing of underpasses, flyovers and more roads to make ways of cars. This kind of development is not only bad for environment but also for the lower social strata of the country that doesn’t feel included. In Pakistan most of the people can’t afford to own cars. However, a major portion of developmental budget in the cities goes to the projects to support more cars; this not only increases burdens on road, consumption of fossil fuels but makes the poor suffer since they don’t have mass transit system available or they don’t have pedestrian friendly lanes.
Apart from this, very often the trees are cut and the course of natural drainage system is altered to make ways for the roads. This again increases temperature due to loss of green cover and makes the cities prone to flooding in monsoon season since rain water doesn’t seem to find the way.
Illegal Encroachment by the Housing Societies
Rapidly emerging housing societies often on encroached land are also attributed to the loss of fertile land and forests in Pakistan. Recently, under the government’s amnesty package more housing societies are emerging. The opportunity to make the black money white through construction is making the rich invest in housing sector. Although the major cities in Pakistan have land regulatory authorities but they don’t seem competent enough to ensure the acquisition of housing land through legal means. Apart from this, the housing sector is suffering from poor planning as well. Horizontal housing trend with now multi-storey buildings is causing more loss to the land which can otherwise be for parks, forests or for any other public places. The lack of vertical model for housing, limited check and balance on land acquisition and encroachment of natural resources by construction sectors are few issues that can be managed by the government. However, they are receiving little to no attention and contributing to the exploitation of natural resources.
In order to preserve the nature and tackle the issue arising from increased global warming Pakistan needs to increase reliance on renewable energy resources and review the spending on development of infrastructure.