By Hina Kiyani
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, due to its massive plantation drive, has achieved 9 percent decrease in the green house gas emissions as projected by the international studies and is well ahead of its global commitments made to fight climate change. The country despite having limited resources is playing a lead role in Climate Action and ensuring successful implementation of environment protecting initiatives that will benefit the entire region through absorption of carbon emissions resulting climatic changes.
After successful plantation of one billion trees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under Billion Tree Afforestation Project (BTAP) and the launch of Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (10BTTP), a scaled up version of the former, has helped in increasing carbon absorption or sequestration to a significant level, said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam stated.
‘Pakistan’s current GHG emissions comprise of 500 million tonnes which is less than one percent of the global emissions level. The country shows 9 percent decrease in the GHG emissions as projected by international studies for this decade which is below business as usual,’ he added.
The BTAP and 10BTTP massive afforestation projects would help sequester an estimated 500 million tonnes of carbon within next two decades which would be equal to our current total GHG emissions, Amin Aslam said while highlighting a recent study made in this regard.
These two projects, he said would be very strong solutions to reduce adverse impacts of environmental degradation, adding, â€œIt will help in bending the country’s total GHG emissions that are still less than one percent.’
The Ministry of Climate Change under its National Programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) has developed the first ever Forest Reference Emissions Level (FREL) data which sets a benchmark of emissions from deforestation that will help the country to estimate the carbon stocks being absorbed by its forests to access foreign exchange through result-based payments. REDD+ is a mechanism developed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
It creates a financial value for the carbon stored in forests by offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.
Developing countries would receive results-based payments for results-based actions. REDD+ goes beyond simply deforestation and forest degradation and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, said the UNREDD website.
The National FREL submitted to the UNFCCC was developed in a stepwise approach with the technical assistance of an international consulting firm Arbonaut Oy, Finland in joint venture with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Pakistan).
The FREL has estimated 946,653 tonnes CO2 per annum between 2004 to 2012 as the magnitude of this climate change inducing gas being released from forests in Pakistan as a consequence of deforestation which could be absorbed by mitigating the loss of trees and green cover.
It highlighted that the largest share of CO 2 emissions originated from dry temperate forests with 34 per cent, riverine forests 27 per cent and Chir pine forests 16 per cent followed by moist temperate 11 per cent, scrub 9 per cent and thorn 3 per cent forests in 2004-2012.
Pakistan is repeatedly placed among the top ten countries vulnerable due to climate change in Global Climate Risk Index of the German Watch as the country is highly exposed to impending climatic threats. â€œThe forestry sector, commonly considered as bearing a high natural capital value for the society and a safeguard against climatic threats, has suffered heavily during the past two decades,â€ the FREL study noted.
Keeping in view, several socio-economic factors that have been reported to accelerate the deforestation trends in the country, the government has initiated massive afforestation initiatives including Billion Tree Tsunami Plantation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and nationwide flagship project of Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Plantation programme.