Members of the Senate Climate Change Caucus in its meeting on Thursday agree that the situation of smog and air quality in Pakistan is alarming and is a national emergency. The Caucus has decided to request the Chairman Senate to call a meeting of the Committee of the Whole on the issue given the dangerously high levels of air pollution.
The meeting was chaired by the Chairperson of the Caucus Senator Sherry Rehman here at the Parliament House on Thursday and was attended among others by Senators Javed Abbasi, Nuzhat Sadiq, Gul Bashra, Khushbakht Shujaat, Faisal Javed Khan, Asad Ali Junejo, Rubina Khalid, Maula Bakhsh Chandio, Sitara Ayaz, Shamim Afridi, and senior officials of the Ministry of Climate Change. The meeting was given a comprehensive account on smog and air quality in Pakistan, its causes and possible remedies by an expert in Environmental Law and environmental activist Ahmed Rafay Alam and his team.
The Caucus was told that the appearance of smog in the months of November and December doesn’t mean that the air pollution is alarming in these two months alone. The amount of pollution being sent to the environment goes on twelve months of the year but only due to the cold weather and fog this pollution gets stacked in the air and hence is visible. The causes of smog include but are not limited to crop burning, industry fuels, construction materials, car smoke among other factors.
The members of the Caucus expressed resolve to take all due measures in changing the energy policy of the country and maintaining a check on industrial and automobile sector and bring environmental reforms in the sectors. It was agreed that in relation to air quality control there is little that can be done at individual level and strong policy measures will prove more meaningful. The Caucus was told that lung cancer and other serious respiratory diseases can see an increase in result of increased smog and air pollution. The need to give a measured policy response instead of a panicked one and the importance of installing smog degree measuring meters across the country was stressed upon.