Sherry Rehman urges quick action to counter pollution hazards

Islamabad: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Vice President Senator Sherry Rehman on Wednesday expressed deep concern over Pakistan’s alarming air pollution levels, as highlighted in an annual report by the Swiss air-monitoring organization IQAir, and stressed the decisive action by implementing the National Clean Air Policy 2023 to reduce air pollution to safe levels.
“According to the annual report by IQAir, Pakistan ranked second in the list of the world’s most polluted cities in 2023,” she said while commenting on the report on Wednesday.

She said Bangladesh secured the top position on this list, yet the air pollution rates between Pakistan and Bangladesh showed no significant difference. IQAir recommends an average air pollution level of 2.5 micrograms per cubic meter (PM).
“However, it is alarming that Pakistan recorded an air pollution level of 73.7 PM in 2023, surpassing the dangerous threshold and posing a severe health risk to our citizens,” she said.

The Senator said that the situation persisted in cities like Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, and numerous others, even after the conclusion of winter, with Pakistani cities remaining on the list of polluted areas. “Taking decisive action, such as implementing the National Clean Air Policy (NCAP) 2023, is essential to reduce air pollution to safe levels.”

Sherry Rehman outlined the National Clean Air Policy (NCAP)’s goals to reduce air pollution. The NCAP aims for ambitious reductions in PM2.5 emissions: 38% by 2030 and 81% by 2040 compared to baseline levels.

The policy also targets a 21% and 70% reduction compared to 2020 levels for those years respectively. Recognizing the importance of local efforts, the NCAP highlights the crucial role of Pakistan’s provinces in implementing measures to improve air quality in their jurisdiction.

She said building on Pakistan’s first National Inventory for Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP) compiled in 2022, the NCAP identifies priority actions for SLCP mitigation. The policy aligns with Air Quality Guidelines established by the World Health

Organization (WHO) in 2021, serving as a reference for identified targets,” she explained. Senator Sherry Rehman that the NCAP outlined specific measures across five key sectors to accelerate progress in reducing air pollutant emissions: transport (implementing Euro-5 and Euro-6 Fuel Quality Standards), industry (enforcing emission standards for industries), agriculture (preventing burning of agricultural residues), waste (preventing open burning of municipal solid waste), and households/residential (promoting the use of low-emission cooking technologies).

Senator Sherry Rehman said it is essential to implement these measures at provincial and federal levels to achieve tangible improvements in air quality and safeguard public health. “This is the fork in the road when they, like all of us, must do more,” she said.