It has barely been a fortnight since nations of the world adopted the Paris agreement, the first universal, legally-binding pact on tackling climate change. Delegates to the summit went home with their respective programmes to honour the deal in the best way possible, which provides the impetus for every nation to do more to confront the threat of global warming and build a low-carbon future. Although a signatory to the pact alongside some 195 countries, Pakistan’s seriousness to pursue the ambitious agenda appears sorely lacking, as many pieces of the bureaucratic machinery deployed to handle as delicate a job as environment are found missing. A report in this paper sheds light on how key departments connected to the climate change ministry are working without permanent heads for years, as many senior posts in the ministry’s allied departments are either vacant or being held by officials from unrelated fields. This state of affairs bespeaks our wavering commitment to handling environmental hazards.
Our country is listed among nations most affected by destruction wrought on by climate change. Recurring floods, which have over the years left thousands of people dead and homeless, are but one symptom of this disturbing phenomenon. This calls for serious efforts and commitment to put in every effort to mitigate the deleterious effects of climate change where humanly possible. And what certainly is humanly possible is dedicating officials well-versed in the field to the job of managing the environment. This will constitute only a small beginning, but certainly prove crucial to charting our path to a protected environment. A department such as the country’s Environmental Protection Agency, if left headless, will mean giving a free rein to violators to further degrade the environment and preclude the possibility of any action being taken against them. The Paris deal has set a tall order and obligated nations to do much more. If Pakistan cannot begin putting its house in order by taking such rudimentary steps as appointing officials to key environment-related posts, how it would brace for a harder challenge is anybody’s guess.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2015.