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Event Title: Senator Seemee Ezdi, Chairperson Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change presiding over a Meeting of the Committee at Parliament House

Event Date: 2023-12-21

A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change was held today at Parliament House with Senator Seemee Ezdi in Chair. The committee members emphasized the urgent issue of fog in various cities of Punjab. The committee chairperson initiated the discussion by pointing out that this critical matter is often considered only when it's too late. Officers from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination provided a briefing on the factors contributing to air pollution in Punjab's cities.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination officers explained that a significant portion of pollution is due to traffic pollution. They presented their legal and institutional framework for smog prevention and control. They also highlighted weaknesses in watch and ward, work prosecution, collaboration, presence, operations, and monitoring. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination officers admitted some industries in the north of Lahore violated their standardized procedures. They mentioned their forward strategy involves strengthening field officers, presence, drone surveillance, improved and timely reporting, and daily debriefing sessions. They initiated the ECO Watch Android app for accurate mapping of irritants, ensuring daily monitoring of actions, and tracking pollutant footprints. They also reported implementing 80% effective emission control to reduce black smoke.

The committee chairperson expressed that, despite these efforts, fog persists in the region, suggesting a possible flaw in the implementation of their methodology. Officers concluded that local pollutants such as transport, fugitive dust, and uncontrollable dry sweeping contribute to environmental degradation, while industrial contributions to pollution have significantly decreased. Senator Dr. Mohammad Humayun Mohmand highlighted that the issues are not being addressed correctly, with progress stagnant compared to the previous year. He recommended a reassessment of the monitoring of the Air Quality Index (AQI). Senator Taj Haider also suggested a clear policy for transportation to mitigate pollution issues.

The committee members also discussed the complaint about Seraph Pharmaceutical Islamabad. The officers revealed that legal action was initiated on September 25, 2023, and a personal hearing was promptly extended in response to the complaint about their wood slates, which were alleged to contribute to uncontrolled burning and pollution. The company requested 20 days to address and eliminate the pollution-causing factor. However, the next day, they learned that the industry had been sealed by ICT. Therefore, they will proceed with legal action once the company is operational again

Furthermore, the Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination provided a briefing on COP28, explaining that Pakistan, the UAE, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia were elected for the Loss and Damage Fund. The Loss and Damage Fund was successfully operationalized under the World Bank, with a pledge of more than USD 792 million, and Pakistan played a vital role in its operationalization during COP27 and COP28. Additionally, Pakistan was nominated to the Santiago Network Board in COP28 as well.

Addressing climate change financing, the Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination added that funding priorities for mitigation and adaptation, ranging from 34 to 66 percent, have been initiated. The recognition of ocean and coastal systems-based mitigation has also been included in the Global Stocktake (GST) of COP28.

The committee members expressed appreciation for the efforts undertaken during COP28 and commended the active participation of minorities, youth, and women. The Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination presented Pakistan's candid stance, highlighting the Prime Minister's focus on the right to economic growth in the least harmful way, the right to economic development, adherence to the principle of equity, transparency in climate finance, access to means of implementation, and early operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund during COP28.

The committee chairperson, Senator Seeme Ezdi, emphasized the importance of the Mangroves Alliance for Climate and praised the fact that the mangrove population in Sindh has increased by 300% since 1990. The Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination added that Pakistan is ahead in this alliance and has already signed an enhanced MoU for 15 million hectares with the UAE.

On a similar note, he stated that the way forward for Pakistan involves the creation of the Pakistan Climate Change Authority and the establishment of a COP Cell in MoCC&EE. Additionally, to strengthen the Global Climate Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), they are in the process of hiring an executive director with a Ph.D. in environmental science. The Secretary concluded his presentation by expressing confidence that, by the next COP meeting, Pakistan is likely to have everything in place.

The committee members praised the efforts of the Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination during COP28. In attendance were Senator Abida Muhammad Azeem, Senator Taj Haider, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Senator Dr. Mohammad Humayun Mohmand, Secretary Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination, the Chairman of the Federal Flood Commission, Ministry of Water Resources, and the senior officials from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination.