Karachi to gather for Climate March

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Karachi: Climate change is now a scientifically established fact despite there being widespread apathy and outright denial of its reality. Globally, states and societies have become increasingly aware of the devastating impact it will have on the environment, ecological balance and livelihoods.

The primary cause of these changes is our exploitation of the earth’s resources for unsustainable production and consumption practices.

Global temperatures have risen to around 1.0°C above pre-industrial levels and this is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.

Governments will need to coordinate and commit to policy measures if we are to ensure survival of future generations on this planet.

Climate change is already being witnessed in Pakistan in the form of rising temperatures, shift in seasonal cycles, irregular and changing rainfall patterns, receding glaciers, droughts, floods and deadly heat waves.

Karachi witnessed one such heat wave in 2015 when approximately 1200 casualties were reported. In order to meet the threat posed by these changes, Pakistan will need to take radical measures both short and long term.

Recognizing the immediacy of this threat, groups of concerned citizens have come together in several cities of Pakistan to raise awareness on the issue. ClimateActionPk is an intercity group comprising civil society activists, scholars, environmental experts, students, lawyers, journalists, teachers, workers and ordinary citizens of Pakistan.

It intends to raise alarm over the apathy and indifference of policymakers, businesses and fellow citizens towards the impending danger to Pakistan’s survival as a functioning economy and society.

The damages to environment caused by irresponsible habits of consumption, production and other practices needs to be stopped and rethought and will need national, provincial and local level interventions to begin to mitigate the disaster that Pakistan is already confronting.

ClimateActionPk will be demonstrating in Karachi through a Climate March on Friday, September 20. Various groups of ordinary citizens will be participating in this march that will take place at Frere Hall Gardens at 4:00 pm.

The primary purpose of this march is to focus the government’s attention on the issue of climate change. Participating cities from across Pakistan have come up with their respective charters of demand which include:

  1. Declaring a climate emergency
  2. Climate justice though a national and global coalition
  3. Adopting a low-carbon economy; and
  4. Ensuring grassroot level climate adaptation efforts

Additionally, for the Karachi group, ClimateActionPk will also put forward the following city-specific demands:

  1. Revise the Karachi Master Plan keeping in view the unprecedented environmental challenges faced by residents of this city
  2. Launch a massive afforestation and reforestation project of indigenous groundcover, shrubs, bushes and trees
  3. Reduce and regulate emissions and effluent from transportation, agricultural, resource extraction, energy and industrial sectors
  4. Establish an urban waste management program
  5. Shift to renewable energy sources and discourage fossil-fuel based energy
  6. Halt illegal and unsustainable land development by large real estate interests at the expense of local communities, ecology and environment

Karachi Climate March is taking place during the week of the Global Climate Strike and coincides with the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 which takes place on 23rd September 2019. The motivation is to put Pakistan in the global conversation on climate change, since this country will be one of the worst affected due to changes in the environment and rise in sea levels.

On the national level, the conversation on climate change has boiled down to just adhoc steps such as tree plantation and ban on single-use plastics. The Climate March will raise awareness that the issue needs a wider scale of policymaking and regulation that curtails established harmful practices while improves living conditions for the vast majority of our countryfolk.