Consistent annual heatwaves, rampant air pollution and melting glaciers have not been able to convince Pakistan to adequately address climate change. This year’s flooding across the entire country, and especially in Sindh, must convince the nation that it is time Pakistan takes and addresses climate change seriously.
Until this point, most Pakistanis have heard of climate change as some sort of specter that is haunting the West and cannot harm Pakistan. But what Pakistan needs to understand that, although countries like the US and China are the prime causes of climate change, the effects will hit developing countries such as it first – the only way to avoid this is to invest in environmentally-friendly measures on not just an individual but also national level.
This isn’t going to stop this year. It would be very nice to assume and hope and pray that this monsoon season was one of a kind – perhaps it was just another effect of the cursed year 2020 – but it’s not. Unless stopped by a drastic change in lifestyles, global records will continue to be broken and mankind will continue to cause climate change and by the time realization dawns, it may be too late.
But things will not change. Not unless Pakistanis make an active effort against climate change.
On this, the federal government’s efforts are indeed laudable. The 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, import of environmentally-friendly Euro-V fuel, and the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam are just some of the measures taken by PTI against climate change. But even these are not enough.
While the government has shown a commitment against climate change (a commitment that must be maintained by ensuring constant public pressure on them), the private sector has an equally important role in this.
Numerous high-end departmental stores use plastic bags and plastic equipment as if entirely oblivious to their effects. It may seem as if this has a small impact, but the bags and cutlery do add up to piles and piles of un-disposable plastics. The public needs to pressurize such stores, as is being done in Europe, to adopt environmentally-friendly measures and invest in reusable bags.
But in addition to this, the public itself also needs to be accepting of non-plastic alternatives even if that causes greater inconvenience to them. Recently, HyperStar in Karachi reportedly introduced non-plastic bags for fruits and vegetables in a bid to be more environmentally-friendly. In the past, they already introduced reusable bags at the cashiers, and this was an additional step forward. However, the natural inconvenience of these new bags caused an outcry by customers and, within the week, plastic bags had returned to the fruits and vegetables area.
The war against climate change will be inconvenient for every citizen. Choosing to adopt environmentally-friendly measures is no easy task, especially given how nearly everything seems to have a significant carbon footprint nowadays. But, it is a step that needs to be adopted because otherwise it may not be terrorism or corruption that destroys us; it may prove to be nature itself.