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)
Short Url
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.


Joe Biden signs $40 billion for Ukraine assistance during Asia trip

Joe Biden signs $40 billion for Ukraine assistance during Asia trip
Updated 7 sec ago

Joe Biden signs $40 billion for Ukraine assistance during Asia trip

Joe Biden signs $40 billion for Ukraine assistance during Asia trip
  • The legislation was passed by Congress with bipartisan support
  • The new legislation will provide $20 billion in military assistance
SEOUL: President Biden on Saturday signed legislation to support Ukraine with another $40 billion in US assistance as the Russian invasion approaches its fourth month.
The legislation, which was passed by Congress with bipartisan support, deepens the US commitment to Ukraine at a time of uncertainty about the war’s future. Ukraine has successfully defended Kyiv, and Russia has refocused its offensive on the country’s east, but American officials warn of the potential for a prolonged conflict.
The funding is intended to support Ukraine through September, and it dwarfs an earlier emergency measure that provided $13.6 billion.
The new legislation will provide $20 billion in military assistance, ensuring a steady stream of advanced weapons that have been used to blunt Russia’s advances. There’s also $8 billion in general economic support, $5 billion to address global food shortages that could result from the collapse of Ukrainian agriculture and more than $1 billion to help refugees.
Biden signed the measure under unusual circumstances. Because he’s in the middle of a trip to Asia, a US official brought a copy of the bill on a commercial flight so the president could sign it, according to a White House official.
The logistics reflect a sense of urgency around continuing US support for Ukraine, but also the overlapping international challenges facing Biden. Even as he tries to reorient American foreign policy to confront China, he’s continuing to direct resources to the largest conflict in Europe since World War II.

Women TV presenters defy Taliban order to cover faces on air

Women TV presenters defy Taliban order to cover faces on air
Updated 2 min 32 sec ago

Women TV presenters defy Taliban order to cover faces on air

Women TV presenters defy Taliban order to cover faces on air
KABUL: Women presenters on Afghanistan’s leading TV channels went on air Saturday without covering their faces, defying a Taliban order that they conceal their appearance to comply with the group’s austere brand of Islam.
Since surging back to power last year the Taliban have imposed a slew of restrictions on civil society, many focused on reining in the rights of women and girls.
Earlier this month Afghanistan’s supreme leader issued a diktat for women to cover up fully in public, including their faces, ideally with the traditional burqa.
The feared Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice ordered women TV presenters to follow suit by Saturday.
Previously they had only been required to wear a headscarf.
However, broadcasters TOLOnews, Shamshad TV and 1TV all aired live programs Saturday with women presenters’ faces on show.
“Our female colleagues are concerned that if they cover their faces, the next thing they will be told is to stop working,” said Shamshad TV head of news Abid Ehsas.
“This is the reason they have not observed the order so far,” he told AFP.
Mohammad Sadeq Akif MoHajjir, spokesman for the vice ministry, said the women were violating the Taliban directive.
“If they don’t comply we will talk to the managers and guardians of the presenters,” he told AFP.
“Anyone who lives under a particular system and government has to obey the laws and orders of that system, so they must implement the order,” he said.
The Taliban have demanded that women government employees be fired if they fail to follow the new dress code.
Men working in government also risk suspension if their wives or daughters fail to comply.
MoHajjir said media managers and the male guardians of defiant women presenters would also be liable for penalties if the order was not observed.
The Taliban previously promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterised their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.
During two decades of US-led military intervention in Afghanistan, women and girls made marginal gains in the deeply patriarchal nation.
But since August women have already been banned from traveling alone and teenage girls barred from secondary schools.
In the 20 years after the Taliban were ousted from office many women in the conservative countryside continued to wear a burqa.
However, most Afghan women, including TV presenters, opted for the Islamic headscarf.
Television channels have already stopped showing dramas and soap operas featuring women, following orders from Taliban authorities.

Zelensky: Only ‘diplomacy’ can end Ukraine war

Zelensky: Only ‘diplomacy’ can end Ukraine war
Updated 40 min 6 sec ago

Zelensky: Only ‘diplomacy’ can end Ukraine war

Zelensky: Only ‘diplomacy’ can end Ukraine war
  • War ‘will be bloody, there will be fighting but will only definitively end through diplomacy’

KYIV: The Ukraine war can only be resolved through “diplomacy,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday amid a deadlock in negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow.
“The end will be through diplomacy,” he told a Ukrainian television channel. The war “will be bloody, there will be fighting but will only definitively end through diplomacy.”
“Discussions between Ukraine and Russia will decidedly take place. Under what format I don’t know — with intermediaries, without them, in a broader group, at presidential level,” he said.
“There are things that can only be reached at the negotiating table,” he said.” We want everything to return (to as it was before)” but “Russia does not want that,” he said, without elaborating.
The results of negotiations, which could have a variety of subjects “according to the timing of the meeting,” would have to be “fair” for Ukraine, Zelensky stressed.
The president spoke of a document about security guarantees for his nation, saying it would be signed by “friends and partners of Ukraine, without Moscow.” A bilateral discussion would be held with Russia at the same time, he added.
He also recalled Kyiv’s absolute precondition for continuing talks that Russia does not kill Ukrainian troops who defended the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol.
Zelensky noted Russian troops “offered the possibility, found a way for these people to come out alive,” from Azovstal.
“The most important thing for me is to save the maximum number of people and soldiers.”
According to Moscow 2,439 Ukrainians have surrendered at the plant since May 16, the final 500 on Friday.
On Tuesday, Kyiv’s lead negotiator Mykhaylo Podolyak said talks with Russia were “on hold” after taking place regularly in the earlier stages of the conflict but without substantial results.
The following day Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Kyiv authorities of not wanting to continue talks to end hostilities.
“Talks are indeed not moving forward and we note the complete lack of will of Ukrainian negotiators to continue this process,” he said.
The last talks took place on April 22, according to Russian news agencies.
After failing to take Kyiv following the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops are now concentrating on the east of the country, where fierce clashes are ongoing.


Australians vote to determine conservative government future

Australians vote to determine conservative government future
Updated 21 May 2022

Australians vote to determine conservative government future

Australians vote to determine conservative government future
  • Opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s center-left Labour Party is a favorite to win its first election since 2007

CANBERRA: Vote counting started in Australia’s election on Saturday that will decide whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative government can defy odds and rule for a fourth three-year term.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s center-left Labour Party is a favorite to win its first election since 2007. But Morrison defied the opinion polls in 2019 by leading his coalition to a narrow victory.
His coalition holds the narrowest of majorities — 76 seats in the 151-member House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form a government.
Both leaders campaigned in Melbourne on Saturday morning before voting in their hometown of Sydney.
Labor is promising more spending on care for children and the elderly. The coalition is promising better economic management as Australia’s deficit soars because of the pandemic.
Morrison said if reelected, his government would deliver lower taxes as well as downward pressure on interest rates and costs of living.
“It’s a choice about who can best manage our economy and our finances because a strong economy is what guarantees your future,” Morrison said.
A federal judge ordered the removal of mostly green-colored campaign signs near Melbourne polling stations that urged voters to “Put Labor Last.” The signs were designed to look like they were authorized by the Australian Greens, an environmental party that prefers the policies of Labor to Morrison’s coalition. But a business group was responsible for them.
Albanese went with his partner Jodie Haydon, his 21-year-old son Nathan Albanese and his cavoodle Toto to vote at the Marrickville Town Hall in his inner-Sydney electorate.
Albanese would not be drawn into saying whether Toto would move into the prime minister’s official residence in Sydney or Canberra if Labor wins.
“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” Albanese said. “I’m very positive and hopeful about a good outcome tonight.”
He referred to his humble upbringing as the only child of a single mother who became a disabled pensioner and lived in government housing.
“When you come from where I’ve come from, one of the advantages that you have is that you don’t get ahead of yourself. Everything in life’s a bonus,” Albanese said.
Morrison voted with his wife Jenny at the Lilli Pilli Public School in his southern Sydney electorate.
He later used the rare interception of a suspected asylum seeker boat attempting to enter Australian waters as a reason why voters should reelect his government.
Australian Border Force said in a statement the boat had been intercepted in a “likely attempt to illegally enter Australia from Sri Lanka.”
The Australian policy was to return those on board to their point of departure, the statement said.
Morrison argues Labor would be weaker on preventing people smugglers from trafficking asylum seekers.
“I’ve been here to stop this boat, but in order for me to be there to stop those that may come from here, you need to vote Liberal and Nationals today,” Morrison told reporters, referring to his coalition.
The boat carrying 15 passengers was intercepted near the Australian Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island on Saturday morning, The Weekend Australian newspaper reported.
The number of asylum seekers arriving in Australian waters by boat peaked at 20,000 in 2013, the year Morrison’s coalition was first elected.
Morrison’s first government role was overseeing a military-led operation that turned back asylum seeker boats and virtually ended the people trafficking trade from Asia.
The first polling stations closed on the country’s east coast at 6 p.m. (0800 GMT). The west coast is two hours behind.
Due to the pandemic, around half of Australia’s 17 million electors have voted early or applied for postal votes, which will likely slow the count.
Voting is compulsory for adult citizens and 92 percent of registered voters cast ballots at the last election.
Early polling for reasons of travel or work began two weeks ago and the Australian Electoral Commission will continue collecting postal votes for another two weeks.
The government changed regulations on Friday to enable people recently infected with COVID-19 to vote over the phone.
Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said more than 7,000 polling stations opened as planned and on time across Australia despite 15 percent of polling staff falling sick this week with COVID-19 and flu.
Albanese said he had thought Morrison would have called the election last weekend because Australia’s prime minister is expected at a Tokyo summit on Tuesday with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“If we get a clear outcome today then whoever is prime minister will be on a plane to Tokyo on Monday, which isn’t ideal, I’ve got to say, immediately after a campaign,” Albanese said.
Analysts have said that Morrison left the election until the latest date available to him to give himself more time to reduce Labor’s lead in opinion polls.
The closely watched Newspoll published in The Australian newspaper on Saturday put Labor ahead with 53 percent of voter support.
The poll surveyed 2,188 voters across Australia from May 13 to 19 and had a 2.9 percentage points margin of error.
At the last election in 2019, the split of votes between the government and Labor was 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent — the exact opposite of the result that Australia’s five most prominent polls including Newspoll had predicted.
As well as campaigning against Labor, Morrison’s conservative Liberal Party is fighting off a new challenge from so-called teal independent candidates to key government lawmakers’ reelection in party strongholds.
The teal independents are marketed as a greener shade than the Liberal Party’s traditional blue color and want stronger government action on reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions than either the government or Labor are proposing.
The government aims to reduce Australia’s emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Labor has promised a 43 percent reduction.


Russian military says it destroyed Western arms consignment in Ukraine

Russian military says it destroyed Western arms consignment in Ukraine
Updated 21 May 2022

Russian military says it destroyed Western arms consignment in Ukraine

Russian military says it destroyed Western arms consignment in Ukraine
  • Moscow also said Russia had struck numerous Ukrainian command posts

LONDON: The Russian military said on Saturday it had destroyed a major consignment of Western arms in Ukraine’s Zhytomyr region, west of Kyiv, using sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles.
The defense ministry said in a statement the strike took out “a large batch of weapons and military equipment delivered from the USA and European countries” and intended for Ukrainian troops in the eastern Donbas region where the fighting is concentrated.
Reuters could not independently verify the report, which also said Russian missiles had struck fuel storage facilities near Odesa on the Black Sea coast and shot down two Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft and 14 drones.
In its latest update on the war, which Russia calls a “special military operation,” the defense ministry also said Russia had struck numerous Ukrainian command posts.
The West has stepped up weapons supplies to Ukraine since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion and Russia’s military is trying to intercept and destroy them. Moscow says Western arms deliveries for Kyiv, and the imposition of drastic sanctions against the Russian economy, amount to a “proxy war” by the United States and its allies.