Sunday, May 20, 2012

Letter to the Federal Minister for Climate Change, Government of Pakistan

May 14, 2012

Rana Farooq Saeed Khan
Federal Minister for Climate Change
Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Dear Federal Minister,

Climate Project Connectors is a voluntary campaign of individuals in Pakistan who share common values to promote safe and clean environment as a human right and dedicate their efforts to fight climate change. The spirit of our campaign gets inspiration from the Al Gore’s Climate Change Leadership Programme where we, the voluntary Climate Change Presenters and Connectors of The Climate Reality Project create awareness among masses on adverse impact of climate change on human lives and seek sustainable solutions.

Our campaign’ volunteers express their sincere gratitude for the wonderful step our Government has taken in the establishment of Climate Change Ministry in Pakistan. We appreciate this courageous step of the government and consider it as a well taken decision in a right direction. Recently our campaign consulted citizens of Pakistan to let them know about creation of new Climate Change Ministry. We asked them to share their voices with us about what they think is important for the protection of our citizens from the adverse impacts of Climate Change.

Today we present you, through this letter, the voices of citizens with our collective demand to act upon in the best interest of our present and future generation;

• The Ministry of Climate Change should support comprehensive research on processes of climate change, climate modeling and its impacts on different sectors like agriculture, health etc to help planners effective plan long term development and disaster management projects in the country
• The Ministry should support research institutes and students in research studies on climate change and create opportunities for sustainable solutions. Organize eco-friendly events and promote volunteerism among youth, industries and businesses for action on climate change
• Our country contribute less than a percentage in global carbon emission however, still we stand among the list of most vulnerable countries due to climate change and exposed to extreme weather events. The ministry should play its critical role on behalf of the citizens and government of Pakistan by taking aggressive stands in the UN negotiations and advocate with international community to limit global carbon pollution
• The Ministry should mobilize its role to strongly advocate with international community on the Green Climate Fund and technology transfer which could help the citizen of Pakistan in long term plans for climate change adaptation and mitigation
• The Ministry should take a leading role to effectively coordinate among different ministries and departments like Water and Power, Met department, Agriculture, Planning Commission, Forestry, Disaster Management etc. Effective coordination and mobilization of resources is vital to strengthen communities resilience to cope with the impacts of climate change
• The Ministry should strive to good governance and develop human resources to achieve efficiency in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts in the country
• The Ministry should devise a workable strategy with relevant departments at federal, provincial and district level and redesign development projects, keeping in view the impacts of climate change in coming thirty to fifty years
• The Ministry should empower women and poor communities with income generation opportunities and access to green jobs to cope with the impacts of climate change and poverty
• The Ministry should prioritize its efforts to mobilize resources and work on construction of new water reservoirs to lessen the risks of flooding like of 2010 and 2011. Projects like Munda dam should get serious attention of the government
• The Ministry should take serious action to stop deforestation in the country. Pakistan forest cover is less than 5% and the rate of deforestation in our country is on the top in entire world. We could have averted the risks of massive destruction in 2010 and 2011 floods if we had enough forests and water reservoirs capacity in the country. The Ministry should start compulsory plantation activities at government and private schools, colleges and universities level. Army can be a big support to organize massive plantation every year
• The Ministry should take serious steps to promote green agriculture/drought resistant crops production and sustainable water programmes to avert the risk of future food crisis in the country
• The Ministry should start alternate/renewable energies projects at national level, ranging from small hydro power plants in potential villages to mega solar, wind power plants. The Ministry should also take steps to avoid projects like thermal rental power plants. One of the good steps the ministry can take would be to reduce the import duty on solar panels
• The Ministry should make laws to ensure energy efficiency in buildings and industries
• The Ministry should take action against industries without proper waste filtration system to stop discharge of industrial waste to pollute rivers and other water resources. The Ministry should mobilize resources to start participatory solid waste management and recycling programmes through public private partnership
• The Ministry should work closely with planning commission and other ministries to manage both the population and industrial expansion in the country
• The Ministry should devise a transition plan with industries and brands which are contributing highly in emission of greenhouse gases and set a timeframe with incentives to turn them to eco-friendly industries. Industries producing harmful chemicals and products to environment should be closed down with an agreed timeframe and alternate incentives where possible
• The Ministry should ban lease on automobiles to stop rapid increase of automobiles which are becoming a big source of environmental pollution in Pakistan. The Ministry should take action to implement clear air act and sustain clean air which has otherwise become a serious threat in almost all big cities of Pakistan
• The Ministry should establish with Education ministry and train government school teacher to start climate change education programme at village/schools level for awareness among new generation. Efforts should be made to create awareness among grass root communities, especially farmers and women to make them aware of climate impacts and help them take appropriate/indigenous measures to avert the impacts of climate change at local level

We anticipate that the Climate Change Ministry will consider these voices from the citizens of Pakistan seriously. It is also worth mentioning point that the Government of Pakistan recently approved the National Climate Change Policy. Taking serious steps on above action would make the Ministry role highly appreciative among the citizens with the implementation of National Climate Change Policy in Pakistan.

Best wishes

Asif Iqbal

On behalf of the Climate Project Connectors

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Big NO to Deniers From This Part of the World

A little girl child would have been playing with her doll in her little muddy house somewhere in mountain...
A poor farmer would happily be waiting for his crop to get ready and earn some money for his family in rest of the year...
And some beautiful butterflies would have been flying around in the beautiful garden, flower to flower with the chase of little kids behind them...
Neither the little girl with her doll, nor the farmer standing in his field or the kids behind the butterflies know a completely different world far from them -- a world where children in Heartland Institute learn climate change is not real.
They don't know about the world where some people call those who believes on climate reality as serial killer. Perhaps they don't know about the world where people earn billions of dollars with burning of fossil fuel...
Why should such people -- the Deniers -- care about a little girl child living in a muddy house? Because they live in big houses where flash flood doesn't wash away their well protected belongings. Why should deniers care about a poor farmer to lose his crop suddenly with an unexpected rainstorm as they do not go their self into fields or need to grow crops and feed their children? And why should such deniers care about butterflies that are disappearing from gardens as they like to be wealthier rather than caring about the nature for all?
Perhaps someone who denies the reality of climate change could come and see how thousands of such little girls and poor farmers live in Pakistan. Despite the reality of global warming, such families now live with this "new normal" that we call now due to changing weather pattern.
In 2010 flood, nearly 2,000 people died in Pakistan, however loses in terms of financial and infrastructural damages affected about 20 million population in the entire country. In the very next year 2011, another 5 million got suffered due to massive flooding in the Sindh province. Devastation is so big that's why in few place still flood water is stagnant.
As we get closer to another monsoon this year, fears again exist among masses that the same above normal rains would hit number of areas and crop land for another widespread damages. We don't know how many little girls would not be able to play with their dolls and how many farmers would again become helpless until someone come and help them out.
There are thousands people living in remote and highly vulnerable areas in our communities who unfortunately accept this "new normal" as their fate but at least I don't take it as my fate. I feel myself lucky having been trained personally by Al Gore and learn how to connect the dots. Despite the deniers shout to defy the facts it now reveals to many of us why we were facing less devastations in the past than those happening now.
No matter if I live in less developed part of this world, I know why deniers love to fund a school like Heartland institute. I know why such deniers call the believers of climate reality as serial killer. I simply know they are less caring to humanity and more inclined to money making they do by polluting the atmosphere with use of dirty fossil fuel.
May be the deniers have a good support of tiny group of scientists having them well funded and deny the reality of climate crisis. However, they would perhaps need thousands of more years to win a hard fight where they could hide the realities from the world.
Deniers will never win!! As we say a big NO to them from this part of the world...

This blog was originally published on The Huffington Post...