Essay on Environmental Pollution and Global Warming

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    ESSAY ON ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION AND GLOBAL WARMING

    1. INTRODUCTION:

    Significant strides have been made in Pakistan for forwarding the environmental agendafrom being a stand-alone topic to one identifying itself as an integral element of the nationalmainstream development with the recently launched Mid-Term Development Framework for

    2005-2010. This also lends itself to address sustainable environmental development as avehicle for economic growth. Several policies, plans, programs and projects have beeninitiated for environmental protection and conservation in the sectoral areas of water and airpollution control, land use, forest management, energy efficiency, biodiversity conservation,and waste management, etc. In addition, Pakistans role in the international community vis--vis its responsibilities for sustainable development has also become known through theGovernments show of commitment for instance on biodiversity, drought and desertification,and climate change, etc.Economic Survey (2005-06) stated, Sustainable development remains the cornerstone ofgovernment policies, and the concern for environment, its protection, renewal andenrichment is recognized as an obligation towards the betterment of all citizens. Concerns ofenvironment sustainability are integrated in the countrys development agenda and as a

    crosscutting subject, are being addressed in all sectors of economy. The poverty-environment nexus has been of particular interest in the recent years as poverty inPakistan, like in many other middle-income countries, plays an important role in increasingthe vulnerability of the poor to pollution and environmental degradation.

    From formulating the National Conservation Strategy to becoming a signatory to manyinternational conventions/protocols/agreements, Pakistan has emerged as an active andresponsible player for environmental conservation. This responsiveness to global andnational environmental challenges has been supported through legislation, policy makingand creating institutional set up. National Environment Action Plan (NEAP) that was initiatedwith the approval of the Pakistan Environment Protection Council and the UNDP funded,NEAP Support Program (NEAP-SP) remains the flagship initiative of the Government ofPakistan in the environment area. NEAP-SP focuses on a healthy environment and a

    sustainable livelihood by improving the quality of air, water and land with civil societycooperation. In this regard, the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) and theEnvironment Impact Assessment (EIA) have already been made mandatory for public sectordevelopment projects.

    2. NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT POLICY:One of the major achievements of NEAP-SP during 2005-06 was the formulation of the

    National Environmental Policy 2005 which has been approved by the Federal Cabinet. The

    countrys first ever Environmental Policy compliments the objectives of NEAP-SP andaddresses the sectoral issues such as (a) water management and conservations, (b) energyefficiency and renewable, (c) agriculture and livestock, (d) forestry and plantation, (e)biodiversity and protected areas, (f) climate change, air quality and noise, and (g) pollutionand waste management.

    The policy also addresses other cross-sectoral issues such as (a) Population andEnvironment, (b) Gender and Environment, (c) Health and Environment, (d) Trade andenvironment, (e) Poverty and Environment and (f) Environment and Local Government.NEAP-SP has also launched a number of Environment related projects in Wind Power,Energy Conservation, Micro Hydro, Juniper Forests, Chilghoza Forests, through its partnersnamely the Ministry of Water and Power, AEDB, Ministry of Science and technology and theMinistry of Education. In the water sector, Pakistan is faced with severe water shortagesand water quality issues. The orientation of the water management institutions and experts

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    is largely toward harnessing the resource in the service of economic growth, and nottowards its conservation or quality. In addition, severe levels of water pollution andunchecked industrial pollutants being released in water bodies have added an immediatemeasure status to water management issues. Similarly, although making headway in

    addressing ambient air quality in the country, Pakistan is struggling with ineffective airquality management systems. Adding to this burden is the fact that at present there is no

    continuous monitoring station present in the country and most of the data reported isobtained from mobile monitoring units or spontaneous on-site sampling with laboratoriesbased results. A common issue for lack of compliance to water and air quality monitoringand maintenance has been limited resources and persistent information gap.Other environmental sectors such as wetlands and mangroves are also faced with a similarresource crunch and information and data inadequacies thereby negatively effecting thepolicy and program implementation. Over fishing and polluted waters are contributing to thereduction of productivity of the marine and inland fisheries. The precarious condition ofmangroves in coastal zone and the even more precarious status of certain aquatic wildlifeare but a few indicators of the rate of degradation.

    3. COLLABORATION WITH INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY:

    On the International front, Pakistan is a signatory to a number of Multilateral Environmental

    Agreements (MEAs) and has acceded to other non-legally binding instruments such asAgenda-21 Rio Principles and Johannesburg Plan of Implementation aiming for sustainabledevelopment of natural resources. Among them are the United Nations Convention onBiological Diversity (CBD), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wildflora and fauna (CITES), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD),United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention onMigratory Species (CMS), Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Basel Convention on the Controlof Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, RotterdamConvention on the Prior Informed Consent for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticidesin International Trade, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs),and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

    Although constrained by issues such as lack of awareness, technical expertise, institutionalset-up/capacity, coordination among various concerned departments /organizations, and aclear cut policy and plan of action for each MEA, yet Pakistan has taken several steps tomeet its obligations to the MEAs. Key actions include finalizing the National ImplementationPlan (NIP) to eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), meeting the targets set byMontreal Protocol for the elimination of Ozone Depleting Substances, implementing theBiodiversity Action Plan, finalizing the Action Plan for UNCCD; finalizing the guidelines andrules for hospital waste management, and regular reporting to UNFCCC through its Nationalcommunication.

    4. CLEAN DEVELOPMENT MECHANNISM (CDM):

    Following the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 2006, Pakistan has established theDesignated National Authority (DNA) for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in the

    Ministry of Environment. National Operational Strategy for CDM has been approved by thePrime Minister of Pakistan, which offers all support for attracting investments andcapitalizing the carbon business under the CDM initiative. The CDM Cell is working withpublic and private sector partners for attracting investments in energy efficiency, renewableand alternate energy, industries, forestry and agriculture together with technology transferand capacity building. The government of Pakistan has enhanced budgetary allocations forthe environment sector for the period 2005-2010, which will significantly contribute towardsensuring the environmental sustainability.

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    5. IMPACT OF POLLUTION:

    1) Air

    One of the major environmental issues is degradation of ambient air quality particularly inurban areas. The key factors contributing to air pollution in Pakistan are: a) rapidly growingenergy demand; b) increasing industrial and domestic demand and c) a fast growingtransport sector. In the cities, widespread use of low-quality fuel, combined with a dramaticexpansion in the number of vehicles on roads, has led to significant air pollution problems.Air pollution levels in Pakistans most populated cities are among the highest in the worldand climbing, causing serious health issues. The levels of ambient particulates smokeparticles and dust, which cause respiratory disease are generally twice the world averageand more than five times as high as in industrial countries and Latin America. Varioussurveys show that air pollution levels in cities have either crossed safe limits or havereached the threshold values.

    I. Suspended Particulate Matter:

    The most serious issue of air quality in Pakistan is the presence of excessive SuspendedParticulate Matter (SPM) in the ambient air. The major sources of SPM are vehicles,industry, burning of solid waste, brick kilns and natural dust. The origin of SuspendedParticulate Matter (SPM) may be a natural phenomenon, such as unpaved roads and placesuncovered by green grass or trees. Fine particles size of soil may be raised in the form ofdust cloud by driven motor vehicles and by strong wind blow. Other origins may beconsidered coming from artificial emission of SPM such as emission gases including theparticulate matter from the motor vehicles and industrial activities.

    II. Vehicular Pollution:

    The major source of CO emission and particulate matters is from motor vehicles emission.

    In Pakistan, the number of vehicles have jumped from 0.8 million to about 4.0 million within20 years showing an overall increase of more than 400%. The average compound growth ofvehicles is about 11 percent per annum. Since 1980, the maximum growth has been seen in2-stroke vehicles such as delivery vans, which are approximately 1,751%, followed bymotorcycles 541% and Rickshaws 159%. Diesel trucks and buses have also increased at analarming rate of 200-300% since 1980. Diesel vehicles due to overloading, faulty injectionnozzles and weak engines, emit excessive graphitic carbon (visible smoke). Motorcycles andrickshaws, due to their two-stroke engines, are the most inefficient in burning fuel andcontribute most to emissions.

    2) Water:

    Fresh water as a commodity generates concern, being an exhaustible resource and due tothe environmental issues related to its degradation. Preserving the quality and availability of

    freshwater resources however, is becoming the most pressing of many environmentalchallenges for Pakistan. Perhaps, because water is considered a cheap and readily availableresource, there is not enough appreciation just how much stress human demands for waterare placing on natural ecosystems.

    3) Land

    Pakistan is predominantly a dry-land country where 80 % of its land area is arid or semi-arid, about 12% is dry sub-humid and remaining 8 % is humid. Two-third of Pakistansrapidly increasing population depends on dry-lands to support their livelihood mainly

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    through agro-pastoral activities. However, like many other developing countries dry lands inPakistan are severely affected by land degradation and desertification due to unsustainableland management practices and increasing demand of natural resources causing enormousenvironmental problems, including degradation of dry-land ecosystems, loss of soil fertility,flash floods, loss of biodiversity, reduction in land productivity, soil erosion, water logging,salinity, and many other associated problems. The situation is further aggravated by

    scarcity of water, frequent droughts and miss-management of land resources, contributingto expansion of deserts, reduced productivity and consequently increases in rural poverty.Moreover, there is limited knowledge of consequences and economic implications of landdegradation, information gaps, and limited institutional capacity to address land degradationand desertification problems through an integrated land management approach.

    Some threats of land degradation are greater than others in terms of their manifestation:Water logging and salinity as a result of poor irrigation practices affects 14 million ha, whiledeforestation and overgrazing affect 11 and 24 million ha, respectively. While the former isthe cause of the most widespread land degradation in river basins (in Sindh and thePunjab), the latter combine (mostly deforestation, water and wind erosion) to affect thegreater dry land and upland areas (Balochistan, NWFP and parts of Punjab) and doconsiderable damage to the integrity of ecosystems and provision of essential ecosystem

    services soils, trees, water and biodiversity.

    4) Forestry

    Pakistan has 4.01 million hectares covered by forests, which is equivalent to about 5% ofthe total land area. Eighty five percent of this is a public forest, which includes 40%coniferous and scrub forests on the northern hills and mountains. The balance is made up ofirrigated plantations and river rain forests along major rivers on the Indus plains, mangroveforests on the Indus delta and trees planted on farmlands. Though the forest resource ismeager it plays an important role in Pakistans economy by employing half a million people,

    providing 363 thousand cubic meters of timber which constitute as one-third of the nationsenergy needs. Forests and Rangelands support about 30 million herds of livestock, whichcontributes more than US$ 400 million to Pakistans annual export earnings. Forestry sector

    plays an important role in soil conservation, regulates flow of water for irrigation and powergeneration, reduction of sedimentation in water conveyances and reservoirs, employmentand maintenance of ecological balance.

    6. KEY INITIATIVES UNDER THE POLICY:

    I. Climate Change Initiatives:

    The Government of Pakistan Ratified the Kyoto Protocol earlier this year. A high levelNational Committee on Climate Change, chaired by the Prime Minister of Pakistan has beenformed to review policies and monitor progress on climate change initiatives in the country.An autonomous Global Change Impact Studies Centre has been established that is engagedin research on impacts and adaptation to climate change in the country. The Centre is nowwell equipped with staff and resources and is engaged in model based research on climate

    change not only in Pakistan but also at the regional level. Ministry of Environment has beendesignated as the Designated National Authority (DNA) for Clean Development Mechanism(CDM) in the Ministry of Environment.

    National operational strategy for CDM has been approved by the Prime Minister, offers allsupport for attracting...