Pakistan surpasses target of converting 0.920m vehicles into CNGJune 13, 2015
KARACHI:,,, Pakistan has surpassed its target of converting 0.920 million of vehicles into Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) with more than 2.8 million vehicles reported to be running on CNG.
Pakistan is on track to meet the target for land protection for the conservation of wildlife as a percentage of total land area. However, there is a lag in equity based indicators of forest cover, sulphur content in high speed diesel, proportion of population with access to sanitation and energy efficiency. The government has instructed oil refineries to reduce the sulfur content in high speed diesel from current levels of 1% to 0.5% or less to meet Euro standard specifications. This would require significant investment by refineries, and it is not clear if this target can be achieved.
Lack of awareness about environmental issues as well as gross violation of government regulations pose serious challenges in overcoming this lag. The government has undertaken projects and programs on many levels to support the environmental goals through federal/provincial resources.
These projects and programs are under implementation with focus on areas of capacity building, clean drinking water, environmental management, biodiversity, air pollution control and watershed management, urban development, restoration of lakes/ water bodies, environmental awareness, waste management, wetlands etc. After the 18th amendment, the bulk of the responsibility of Environment 263 devolved sectors has been undertaken by the provinces.
However, the federal government still needs to develop new country wide programs. Environment and climate change programs have to be in line with the Vision 2025 while necessitating the sustainable growth of the country through integration of environmental considerations in development.
The major problems arising from rapid urbanization include pollution, inadequate waste management, unprecedented traffic congestion and the almost instant destruction of fragile ecosystems. Earlier researches have shown the destructive effects of particulate matter on human life such as a wide range of respiratory diseases and heart ailments.
The worsening air scenario (particulate matter 10) in major cities can be considered as a sign of warning e.g. according to UN Agency, World Health Organization Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi are now considered amongst the most polluted cities in Asia Pacific. In the winter months, with delayed rainfall, the cold and continuously dry conditions concentrate all the pollutants in the lower levels of the atmosphere, causing the smog to spread all over the Punjab. According to a report released by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) 2014, in Pakistan 91 percent people had gained access to source of drinking water by 2012 while this ratio was 85 percent and 88 percent in 1990 and 2000, respectively. The MDG target is to achieve the ratio of 93 percent by 2015. Moreover, 48 percent people have been using improved sanitation by 2012 while this ratio was 27 percent and 37 percent in 1990 and 2000, respectively.
The MDG target for access to sanitation is 90 percent by 2015. Pakistan’s forest cover and protected area had remained more or less constant over the last decade. The country’s forest cover and protected areas are unlikely to change in the coming years too because of the climatic conditions and population pressures. Sustainable use of resources and environmental concern has become increasingly important.
The inability to address the situation will result in extremely high environmental and economic cost in future. Environmental factors are changing drastically and if left unchecked, pollution and environmental degradation will pose a monumental threat to social and economic growth of the country. Pollution on a wide scale is damaging the land, water, and air as unchecked economic activity has decreased the availability of fresh water resources along with clean air.
Since Pakistan is predominantly an agrarian country, hence the dependence of agriculture on natural resources makes it necessary to help improve the country’s capacity to achieve environmentally sustainable economic development to meet the requirements of present and future generation. Environmental degradation is also fundamentally linked to poverty since poor are directly dependent on natural resources for their livelihood. [In the list of environmentally vulnerable countries, Pakistan is ranked among the top few. Urbanization of the country has made serious changes to the ecosystem of the urban and rural areas of the country.
The biodiversity of the country is under threat due to the massive depletion of natural resources. The Government of Pakistan recognized the need to conserve biodiversity and is now committed to several international protocols and conventions. Pakistan has also set sight on the goals of sustainable development through vision 2025.
Avoiding environmental degradation will ensure food, water and environmental securities in the future. Despite the integration of environmental consideration into development, the environment sector has not been given its due place in past.