ISLAMABAD: The prime minister Imran Khan called on the world to fight back for ecosystem restoration during the next decade and particularly retold the rich countries to assist the poor ones bearing the brunt of their immense carbon emissions.
He was addressing the main ceremony of the World Environment Day hosted by Pakistan at the Convention Center here.
Telecast globally, the event featured the special messages of Chinese President Xi Jinping, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and address by the Executive Director of the UN Environment Program Inger Anderson besides State Minister Zartaj Gul and SAPM Amin Aslam.
Federal ministers, parliamentarians and diplomats from various countries attended the event.
A huge number of forest guards was also present who earned huge applause from the audience, as the prime minister also lauded their efforts and sacrifices to preserve the environment.
“Pakistan has minimal contribution to carbon emission. The rich countries responsible for huge carbon emission have the responsibility to at least provide fund so that the countries like ours may fight global warming, improve our environment. The issue is resources gap,” he said.
Explaining resource constraints in Pakistan, Imran said during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan with a population of 220 million could only scrape around $8 billion for relief package, while 330 million nation of United States doled out a package of 4,000 billion to its people.
He said half of Pakistan’s revenue went to debt servicing leaving the government with insufficient resources to support the people’s health, education, security and other expenditures.
He reiterated that the resource-rich countries should support the developing countries in their fight against the climate change.
He said the world had realised that Pakistan was one of the few countries worried about the coming generations.
He particularly thanked the UNEP and UN Secretary General for repeatedly pressing the rich countries to take their carbon responsibilities.
He said Pakistan was also striving to further reduce its already minimal emissions by switching 30% of its all vehicles to electric transmission and ensure 60% of its power generation through renewable resources by 2030.
He said it was an honor for Pakistan to host the World Environment Day, which depicted the recognition of Pakistan’s efforts and inclusion among few countries concerned for a better environment for future generations.
The prime minister also urged the nation, particularly the youth, to take responsibility of the environment-friendly initiatives so that the world could fight back for ecosystem restoration during UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.
He said like the developing countries, the teachers in Pakistan should also teach the importance of trees to inculcate in them the responsibility for environment conservation.
He said unfortunately Pakistan was among those countries where environment protection was nowhere among the government’s priorities.
He recalled that since its inception till the launch of “On Billion Tree Tsunami” in KP in 2013, the country had planted only 640 million trees.
However, the PTI government, after success of One Billion Tree Tsunami, launched Ten Billion Tree Tsunami and also planted first billion of them.
He lamented the massive deforestation particularly at the Changa Manga, Kundian, Chichawatni and Dipalpur forests where the land mafias had occupied the forest land.
He said the UN Decade was an opportunity for the world to correct its course by fighting back the pollution, ensure clean water and reduced carbon emissions.
He seconded the British prime minister’s words that the future generations would have to bear the cost if we failed to protect environment.
The prime minister said COVID-19 pandemic had made it clear that the world was interdependent with nothing bound by borders. Same was the case with global warming which was equally impacting the world in one way or the other, he added.
He said the whole nation would have to realize that tree plantation was good for their children’s future which retain water, clean air, and restore wildlife and birdlife.
He repeatedly called for public participation in the environment projects to make them stakeholders by giving them jobs and incentives, just like the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami which had provided 85,000 jobs so far.
He said the government had developed 15 National Parks and special guards would be trained for their protection.
He particularly lauded the Punjab government for converting brick kilns to zigzag technology to reduce the pollution level.
Prime Minister Imran Khan further said a water crisis was likely to hit Pakistan in the coming days and lamented how provinces were already blaming each other for water theft.
He said apart from measures introduced by Pakistan, some issues needed world’s attention to reduce carbon emission leading to glacier melting posing threats to countries like Pakistan and Central Asia where rivers were fed by glaciers.
"Eighty percent of Pakistan's water comes through glaciers, and glaciers are being severely affected due to global warming .... India and several other countries will also be impacted by this," he said.
He apprised the gathering of his government’s future initiatives including Recharge Pakistan – to divert flood water to wetland to recharge water table and Mangroves forestation which absorb carbon besides others.