By Arif Qureshi
Islamabad: Ahead of ahead of a United Nations summit on climate change next week thousands of Pakistanis Students, civil society activists, diplomats, officials and people belonging to all walks of life in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad unanimously demanded government of Pakistan to declare climate emergency and engagement on climate justice through national and global coalitions. They demanded to adopt a low-carbon economy, and ensure grassroots level climate adaptation. Marchers call for stringent and immediate actions in response to the global climate crisis.
In Islamabad a large number of citizens staged a protest in front of Islamabad press club. The March was organized by the a coalition of civil society organizations including the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), climate activists, students, farmers and concerned citizens, under the banner of Climate Action Pakistan, to demand transformative action in response to the global climate crisis.
State Minister for Climate Change, Zartaj Gul Wazir said that such a massive crowd in the Climate March and enthusiasm shows the level of awareness among the people of Pakistan about dire consequences of climate change. She said her government after coming into power started ‘Clean Green Pakistan’ movement with the purpose to ensure safe and healthy environment for every citizen.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam also join the Climate March and termed inaction on climate change by the world leaders and international community as the worst ‘human right violation’ in history. “Pakistan demands climate justice from the global community, where the world must take action to counter climate change for a sustainable planet for generations to come”, he said. Pakistan will lead the climate emergency in Asia, he added.
Maryam Shabbir, Environmentalist at SDPI said the purpose of the Climate March was to demand low carbon economies and global action against emissions. “Every developmental project is cutting trees without following regulations”, she said. Government must end deforestation and should act against timber mafia, she added.
Participants of Islamabad Climate March, while presenting their charter of demand to the Advisor and the State Minister for climate change, call upon the government for climate resilient urban planning and development. Marchers also presented Islamabad specific demands and urged the government to preserve green spaces, encourage frequent plantation drives, introduce congestion charges and promote vertical development to reduce urban sprawl to help protect the environment.
It is reminded that the Pakistan has been ranked as the 7th most vulnerable country affected by climate change facing challenges such as melting glaciers that affecting freshwater availability, risk of floods and droughts, decrease in crop yields affecting livelihoods and food production, increased water, air and soil pollution and wildlife loss. To tackle these challenges, Pakistan government since last year has launched several green initiatives under Clean Green Pakistan movement, which includes plantation, plastic bag ban, electric vehicles policy and clean drinking water.