Air Pollution In Pakistan Can Be Tackle Via Comprehensive Planning
Poor governance and a lack of human resources at environmental protection agencies have contributed to Pakistan’s poor air quality.
Air pollution in Pakistan can be addressed through comprehensive planning and collaborative action. Through platforms such as the SAARC, the Malé Declaration should be invoked for cross-border air pollution issues.
The data on air pollution has long been a source of concern. Government agencies either do not produce it digitally or do not make it publicly available. The Punjab made its data available at some point, but this was not a regular service. Other provinces’ data is difficult to come by.
Many private data providers are actively providing real-time air quality data. Poor governance and a lack of human resources at environmental protection agencies have contributed to Pakistan’s poor air quality.
Pakistan’s average air quality index in 2021 remained at 156, with an average PM2.5 concentration of 67.5 g/m3, which is 13 times higher than the World Health Organization allows. As a result, Pakistan is the third-most polluted country in the world and the second-most polluted country in Central and South Asia.
Excessive use of fossil fuel combustion, the transportation sector, chemicals, dust, and rapid and unplanned population growth and urbanisation are the most prominent anthropogenic sources of air pollution in Pakistan. Various studies have concluded that fossil fuel combustion contributes 50–60% of air pollutants, while biomass and waste combustion contribute 9–30%.
The increase in the number of vehicles and the use of low-quality fuel are the leading causes of air pollution in urban areas of Pakistan. According to the World Health Organization, the major air pollutants are particulate matter (PM 2.5 and PM 10), carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and ozone.
Bad air quality not only disrupts education by closing schools during smog season, but it also causes serious health problems in children, women, the elderly, and other vulnerable health groups. It also has an impact on our economy because it affects domestic flights and tourism.
Citizens and civil society have been complaining about poor air quality for more than two decades. Governments have yet to find a satisfactory solution to this problem.
The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 2010, granted the provinces the authority to govern and legislate in a variety of areas, as well as financial autonomy. Every province has its own environmental policies.
Every province also has an environmental protection agency in charge of enforcing environmental quality standards. These agencies, along with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, are responsible for monitoring pollution sources, including air pollution, and making data available to the public.
Another barrier to addressing this issue is the lack of environmentally friendly public transportation. Although there are some public transportation options in Punjab and Sindh, they do not meet public demand. The number of private vehicles on the road is growing by the day. According to the National Transport Research Centre (NTRC), the total number of vehicles in Pakistan is 7.6 million.
Pakistan used 127 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) of compressed natural gas (CNG) and imported 6 million metric tonnes of liquified natural gas (LNG) to meet the requirements for these vehicles in 2019–2020. Pollutant concentrations in the air are increased by poor engine maintenance and poor fuel quality.
The air quality index in Pakistan’s major cities remains high all year, but emergency measures are only implemented during the smog season. The emphasis remains on seasonal contributors, such as farmers, while the transportation sector remains the largest contributor.
The air quality index in Pakistan’s major cities remains high all year, but emergency measures are only implemented during the smog season. Although the emphasis remains on seasonal contributors, such as farmers, the transportation sector remains a major contributor. Data shows that AQI remains high throughout the year.
There is a significant disconnect between academia, industry, civil society, and government. Establishing a federal air pollution control secretariat is one solution to the problem. Members should be drawn from academia, industry, the private sector, provincial environmental protection agencies, district administrations, civil society, the media, and members of the national standing committee on climate change.
The APCS should assist us in overcoming coordination and reporting issues. Through technology transfer offices, academia should connect industry and innovation technology transfer offices, academia should connect industry and innovation. If universities lack such offices, they should assist students in interacting with industry.
The industries, including the transportation sector, should be questioned about their expectations for addressing emissions-related issues. Academics should conduct research and provide solutions. Civil society should provide feasibility studies for implementation and best practises from across the world.
A comprehensive strategy for waste management, afforestation, congestion charges and working from home should be discussed among stakeholders and a plan devised. The private sector should invest in the proposed solutions. The federal government should pool resources through Green Climate Fund and Loss and Damage Fund and help the provinces increase their investment in electric vehicles.
The general public should ensure that no development project is completed without a thorough environmental impact assessment. Town and city planners should be involved in all development projects, particularly housing schemes.
Individually, we should be aware of our carbon footprints and make informed purchasing decisions. Repeated outfits, carpooling while travelling, cycling, tree planting, and effective kitchen waste management should be the norm.