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After Imran Khan: Climate Change Efforts Face Setbacks


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Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, requiring consistent and robust action from governments worldwide. Pakistan, a country significantly impacted by climate change, had been making notable strides under the leadership of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. However, following his ouster, the momentum of climate change initiatives in the country has witnessed a considerable slowdown. The repercussions of this political shift on Pakistan’s climate agenda and its broader global effects.

Imran Khan’s Climate Legacy

Imran Khan’s tenure as Prime Minister saw the launch of several ambitious environmental programs. The most prominent among these was the “Ten Billion Tree Tsunami” project, aimed at combating deforestation and promoting biodiversity. This initiative not only aimed to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change but also sought to provide employment and rejuvenate the natural environment.

Other notable efforts included the introduction of electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions, the enhancement of protected areas, and various international collaborations aimed at climate resilience and sustainable development. Khan’s government was proactive in participating in global climate forums, reinforcing Pakistan’s commitment to international climate agreements.

Post-Ouster Climate Policy Deceleration

Following Imran Khan’s removal from office, there has been a noticeable deceleration in Pakistan’s climate initiatives. The new administration’s focus has shifted towards immediate economic challenges, such as inflation, fiscal deficits, and political stability, sidelining the comprehensive climate agenda set by Khan’s government.

The Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project, once a flagship initiative, now faces funding cuts and logistical hurdles. This reduction in support hampers reforestation efforts, potentially reversing the progress made over the past few years. Additionally, there is a growing concern over the continuity and implementation of other environmental policies introduced by the previous administration.

Domestic Implications

The slowdown in climate action has direct and severe consequences for Pakistan. The country is highly vulnerable to climate change, experiencing extreme weather events such as floods, heatwaves, and droughts with increasing frequency and intensity. A diminished focus on climate resilience exacerbates the risks faced by millions of Pakistanis, particularly those in rural and agrarian communities.

Furthermore, environmental degradation due to halted projects can lead to loss of biodiversity, reduced agricultural productivity, and increased health issues, thereby straining the country’s socio-economic fabric.

Global Repercussions

The effects of Pakistan’s slowed climate efforts extend beyond its borders, impacting global climate goals and regional environmental health. Pakistan plays a critical role in the global fight against climate change, given its significant carbon footprint and strategic geopolitical position.

Climate Agreements and Global Targets: Pakistan’s reduced commitment to climate initiatives may hinder its ability to meet international climate obligations, such as the Paris Agreement. This setback can affect global progress towards limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Regional Environmental Impact: As a key player in South Asia, Pakistan’s environmental policies influence neighboring countries. A slowdown in reforestation and conservation efforts can have transboundary effects, including altered monsoon patterns, shared water resource challenges, and increased air pollution, impacting the entire region.

International Collaboration: Pakistan’s active participation in global climate forums under Khan’s leadership had fostered international cooperation. The current inertia may diminish Pakistan’s role on the global stage, reducing opportunities for international support, knowledge exchange, and joint initiatives, thereby weakening global climate resilience efforts.

The Path Forward

To address the challenges posed by the slowdown in climate initiatives, Pakistan’s current leadership needs to reaffirm its commitment to environmental sustainability. Here are some recommendations:

Re-establishing Funding and Support: Renewed investment in key projects like the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami can revive momentum. International funding and partnerships should be sought to bolster financial and technical support.

Policy Continuity and Implementation: Ensuring the continuation of effective policies introduced by the previous administration, while integrating new strategies to enhance resilience, is crucial for sustained climate action.

Strengthening Institutions: Building robust institutional frameworks to oversee and implement climate policies can provide stability and continuity, regardless of political changes.

Public Engagement and Education: Raising awareness and engaging the public in climate initiatives can foster a sense of ownership and collective responsibility, driving grassroots support for environmental actions.

Imran Khan’s government

The ouster of Imran Khan’s government has undeniably slowed Pakistan’s climate change initiatives, posing significant risks domestically and globally. However, with strategic action and renewed commitment, Pakistan can regain its momentum and continue to play a pivotal role in the global fight against climate change. Reinvigorating these efforts is not only crucial for the well-being of Pakistan’s populace but also for the broader goal of ensuring a sustainable and resilient planet for future generations.

Waseem Shahzad Qadri
Waseem Shahzad Qadri
Islamabad based Senior Journalist, TV Show Host, Media Trainer, can be follow on twitter @jaranwaliya

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