Tackling climate change: ‘No clear direction on increasing forest cover’
ISLAMABAD: Parliamentarians expressed serious reservations on Friday over the performance of the Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC).
Members of National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change said Pakistan’s vulnerability to the challenge was increasing with deforestation. They said the ground reality contrasted with the rosy picture painted by ministry officials.
MNA Mussarat Ahmadzeb said the country was directionless about increasing its forest cover. She said water resources were shrinking and dozens of natural streams have dried up. She said MOCC should play a leadership role in bringing all provinces at one platform instead of shifting its responsibilities to provinces.
The ministry officials were not able to properly respond to questions of parliamentarians but Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid intervened and tried to rescue officials, defusing the heating discussion. He said a comprehensive plan ‘Green Pakistan’ was being devised to promote forestry across the country.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the ministry to prepare a comprehensive strategy for this purpose and we have started work on it,” he apprised. He said consultation process with concerned provincial secretaries had already been initiated as “the national plan, which is in its advanced stage, has to be implemented at the provincial level.”
Under the strategy, the minister said, trees of special species including juniper, deodar, Sheesham and pine would be planted in different forest pockets to tackle adverse effects of climate change.
Hamid also informed the committee that he had floated an idea to the prime minister for setting up a climate change inter-ministerial authority.
While briefing the committee members on the recent climate change conference in Paris, the minister said it discussed all possible ways and means to mitigate negative impacts of climate change and global warming across the world. He said the conference reached an agreement that every country would be responsible as per its capacity to tackle environmental issues. The conference agreed on a ‘differentiated responsibility’ on every participant country, he said, elaborating that developed countries would have more responsibility than developing nations.
The Inspector General Forests also briefed the standing committee about the steps taken by the ministry to stop deforestation.
The committee members expressed dissatisfaction over the role of the forest department, saying that precious trees were chopped for the monetary benefit of individuals in connivance with some influentials. They blamed that in some forests of Swat-Buner (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Ziarat (Balochistan) rare and precious trees were cut by the mafia. “Even, their roots are burnt to remove any sign of trees there,” they said.