In the climate change battle, Pakistan is an inspiration to world

PM Imran Khan kicks off the ‘Tree Plantation Campaign’ in Baloki. Pakistan aims to reduce the effects of climate change. (Ministry of Climate Change photo)
PM Imran Khan kicks off the ‘Tree Plantation Campaign’ in Baloki. Pakistan aims to reduce the effects of climate change. (Ministry of Climate Change photo)
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Updated 14 August 2021

In the climate change battle, Pakistan is an inspiration to world

In the climate change battle, Pakistan is an inspiration to world
  • Under the PM’s leadership, a landmark ‘10-Billion Tree Tsunami’ reforestation project has earned international acclaim

ISLAMABAD: Climate change caused by increases in greenhouse gas emissions is undoubtedly the biggest challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. The failure of the international community to counter the continuing rise in global temperatures caused by these emissions could have catastrophic consequences.

As has been repeatedly stressed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, it is essential that we make peace with Mother Nature by ensuring that the average increase in global temperature remains below 1.5 degrees Celsius; the importance of this has been emphasized by scientists and environmental experts.

According to a UN report, titled “Code Red for Humanity,” which was published on Aug. 8, the earth is warming at such a rate that within about a decade temperatures could exceed the level experts warn we must avoid.

Climate change is already having devastating effects worldwide and Pakistan is among the 10 worst affected countries that have borne the brunt of this climatic onslaught in the past 20 years.

Yet many leaders around the world remain indecisive. Some of them in countries that are major polluters are reluctant to commit to cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, preferring instead to prioritize industrial growth over environmental concerns.

As a result, developing countries such as Pakistan are having to devise their own strategies to minimize the effects of climate change until such a time that a collective global will and sense of commitment crystallizes into concrete, coordinated action to deal with the challenges.

BACKGROUND

Last year, Pakistan also co-chaired the multibillion-dollar Green Climate Fund, which was established to support climate action in developing countries.

Pakistan has also been playing a proactive role in shaping international discourse on efforts to tackle global warming.

Pakistan, under the stewardship of Prime Minister Imran Khan, has made it a top priority to implement measures that can help to reduce the debilitating effects of climate change. The central aim of these efforts is to ensure that Pakistan is a clean and green society.

A number of initiatives have been launched, including a landmark “10-Billion Tree Tsunami” reforestation project that has earned international acclaim, including praise from the World Economic Forum.

Pakistan can also rightly boast about a number of other initiatives, including its green economic stimulus, Ecosystem Protection Program, wildlife management, Protected Areas Initiative, and Clean Air Program. Khan also inaugurated the world’s biggest Miyawaki urban forest near Lahore on Aug. 9, as part of the tree tsunami.

All these efforts are, in the words of the prime minister, driven solely by his commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change and ensuring future generations inherit a clean and green Pakistan.

In addition to the previously mentioned measures, Pakistan has also launched an initiative that aims to ensure that 60 percent of the country’s energy needs are provided by renewable resources by 2030. For example, two planned coal-fueled power plants, which were intended to generate 2600 megawatts of electricity, were scrapped and replaced with hydroelectric projects.

Khan has been a vocal advocate of collective action by the international community to tackle climate change. In recognition of his comments on the issue as part of the Biodiversity Convention and in the UN General Assembly, and the nature-based solutions developed by his government, the UN Environment Program asked Pakistan to host this year’s UN Environment Day, which took place on June 5.

During the event, Khan shared his government’s plans for dealing with climate change. These include a Recharge Pakistan project, which is designed to divert flood water to wetland to recharge water tables, and the reforestation of mangroves to absorb the carbon contained in greenhouse gases.

Highlighting the threats Pakistan is facing as a result of climate change, he stressed the need for the international community to take action to reduce emissions. They are causing glaciers to melt, which threatens countries such as Pakistan and others in Central Asia whose rivers are fed by these glaciers.

He also called on the international community to assist poorer nations, including Pakistan, that are bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change.

Last year, Pakistan also co-chaired the multibillion-dollar Green Climate Fund, which was established to support climate action in developing countries. As vice president of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Pakistan has also been playing a proactive role in shaping international discourse on efforts to tackle global warming.

At this point it is worth taking a cursory look at international efforts to address climate challenges. The first international agreement to restrict greenhouse gas emissions, known as the Kyoto Protocol, was adopted on Dec. 11, 1997. It operationalized the UNFCCC by committing industrialized countries and economies in transition to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with agreed individual targets in two phases.

Regrettably much of the required cooperation from participating countries failed to materialize. New Zealand and Russia participated in the first phase but did not adopt any targets during the second phase. Canada withdrew from the protocol in 2012 and the USA did not ratify it at all.

A second international accord, known as Paris Agreement, was signed on Dec. 12, 2015 during the UNFCCC’s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP). It marked a historic turning point in global climate action, as world leaders reached a consensus on its framework and goals. Regrettably, US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the agreement while he was in office, as he did from a number of other international commitments.

It is satisfying to note that his successor, President Joe Biden, has announced his intention to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Not only that, in a reflection of the urgency with which he views climate issues, Biden also convened a Leaders Summit on Climate in April this year. The leaders of 41 countries, including Pakistan, took part.

The participants underscored the urgency, and the potential economic benefits, of stronger action on climate change. The deliberations during the event are considered to be a key milestone on the road to the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which will take place in November in Glasgow, Scotland.

As the people of Pakistan celebrate the country’s 74th Independence Day on Aug. 14, and remember the struggles and achievements of its founders, they can also take pride in the fact that not only are the efforts of their present-day leaders to save the nation from the effects of climate change heading in the right direction, they are also making a sterling contribution to the global climate cause.

The initiatives undertaken by Pakistan are surely worthy of emulation by the international community in general, and by other developing nations in particular.


Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents

Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents
Updated 6 sec ago

Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents

Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents
BERLIN: Austria will end its lockdown for unvaccinated residents next Monday — one day before a COVID-19 vaccine mandate takes effect in the country, the government announced Wednesday, according to Austrian news agency APA.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein said the measure, which was introduced in November, was no longer needed because there was no threat of hospital intensive care units being overstretched, APA reported.
For weeks, the lockdown for the unvaccinated has been “a measure that many people complained about, but that was unavoidable for health policy reasons,” Nehammer said.
On Feb. 1, a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for adults — the first of its kind in Europe — will take effect in the small Alpine country. Officials have said the mandate is necessary because vaccination rates remain too low. They say it will ensure that Austria’s hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. So far, 75.4 percent of the country’s residents have been fully vaccinated.
Once the mandate goes into effect, authorities will write to every household to inform them of the new rules.
From mid-March, police will start checking people’s vaccination status during routine checks; people who can’t produce proof of vaccination will be asked to do so in writing, and will be fined up to 600 euros ($676) if they don’t.
If authorities judge the country’s vaccination progress still to be insufficient, Nehammer said earlier this month, they would then send reminders to people who remain unvaccinated. If even that doesn’t work, people would be sent a vaccination appointment and fined if they don’t keep it. Officials hope they won’t need to use the last measure. Fines could reach 3,600 euros if people contest their punishment and full proceedings are opened.

Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack

Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack
Updated 7 min 22 sec ago

Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack

Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack
  • ‘At the moment, as we speak, this number is insufficient for a full-scale offensive against Ukraine along the entire Ukrainian border’
KIEV: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Wednesday that the number of Russian troops deployed along his country’s border was not enough for a major attack.
“The number of Russian troops amassed along the border of Ukraine and occupied territories of Ukraine is large, it poses a threat to Ukraine, a direct threat to Ukraine,” Kuleba told reporters.
“However, at the moment, as we speak, this number is insufficient for a full-scale offensive against Ukraine along the entire Ukrainian border.”

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack
Updated 26 January 2022

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack
  • The day-long siege occurred on Jan. 15 when a British man took four people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville

LONDON: British police said on Wednesday they had arrested two men in the northern English city of Manchester as part of a US investigation into a hostage taking at a synagogue in Texas earlier in January.
British police had previously said they had arrested four people over the incident: two teenagers in Manchester plus one man in Birmingham and another man in Manchester. The teenagers have been released without charge.
The day-long siege occurred on Jan. 15 when a British man took four people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, about 16 miles northeast of Fort Worth, Texas. The gunman died as federal agents stormed the temple while the four hostages were released unharmed.


Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February

Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February
Updated 26 January 2022

Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February

Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February
  • The move is the most far-reaching easing of curbs yet seen among the Nordic countries

COPENHAGEN: Denmark aims to scrap all remaining COVID-19 restrictions next week, the most far-reaching easing of curbs yet seen among the Nordic countries.
In a letter addressed to parliament, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the government intends to follow recommendations issued by an expert panel on Tuesday to scrap all restrictions.
The proposal is still subject to parliamentary approval.


Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list

Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list
Updated 26 January 2022

Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list

Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list
  • Oleg Navalny, whose whereabouts are unknown, was last year held under house arrest between January and April
  • He was handed a one-year suspended sentence for violating safety regulations linked to the COVID-19 pandemic

MOSCOW: Russia has put the brother of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on a wanted list, according to interior ministry records, as he faces a summons for a court hearing that could convert a suspended sentence against him into a prison term.
Oleg Navalny, whose whereabouts are unknown, was last year held under house arrest between January and April and handed a one-year suspended sentence for violating safety regulations linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those charges were filed after he took part in a Moscow rally against his brother Alexei’s arrest.
The Federal Penitentiary Service will petition a Moscow court on Feb. 18 to sentence Oleg Navalny to jail time for failing to comply with restrictions imposed against him for violating safety regulations, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
The 38-year-old was released from prison in 2018 after serving three-and-a-half years for an embezzlement conviction that critics say was designed to pressure his brother and smother dissent.
Alexei Navalny was given a suspended sentence in the same case, converted into a prison term last year because of alleged parole violations. He says the charges against him are politically motivated.
An anti-corruption campaigner and high-profile critic of President Vladimir Putin for the past decade, he survived being poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020 and his political network was banned as “extremist” last year.