Air Pollution contributes 50 percent of total environmental degradation cost: Amin Aslam

ISLAMABAD:Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam Monday said air pollution was a silent killer and the economic cost of environmental degradation over the last decade had reached over 6 per cent to 9 per cent, where air pollution contributed 50 percent of the total cost.

He said this during a seminar titled “Combating air pollution for improved public health, agriculture and economy: Time to act now”, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here, said a press release issue here.

Malik Amin Alam said the major contributing factor to worsening air quality and causing smog issue in the country, especially in Lahore, was transport sector followed by crop burning and waste burning and emissions from brick kilns and steel furnaces.

He said, “We also have cross boundary issue issues with India, especially related to crop burning, which require regional approach to address the issue.”

Releasing the need for authentic and reliable data to address the air pollution and smog issue, Malik Amin underlined the need for more air quality data monitoring stations around the country.

“Under Punjab Green Development Programme (PGDP), with the help of World Bank, we are in the process of establishing around 30 air quality monitoring stations in Punjab, of which 10 will be establish in Lahore only”, he said adding this programme was also aimed at building the capacity of provincial Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These monitoring stations would provide more reliable data to take informed decision and data would also be available to public for awareness and preventive measures, he added.

Malik said under the PGDP, we were also establishing a fund of US$ 50 million to help subsidize the industries to shift away from the pollutant technologies, which in turn would help reduce emissions.

Vehicle inspection and certification system, under the same project, had already been set up and we were hoping to expand at national level to help cut the emissions in transport sector, he added.

Malik said Pakistan Electric Vehicle policy had been approved by the cabinet and the country had unique opportunity of transition towards e-mobility, as we were now in the implementation phase of the policy.

Dr. Imran Khalid, Research Fellow and Head of the Environment and Climate Change Department, SDPI said that air pollution was a national problem and highlighted the need for utilizing atmospheric modeling techniques to understand the pathways through which air pollutants effect our communities.

He urged the need to develop an understanding of regional “air-sheds” which could help devise solutions to counter trans-boundary air pollution.

Dr Hina Aslam, Associate Research Fellow and Head of China Study Center (CSC), SDPI said that persistent exposure to air pollution could result in severe health issues, including asthma, lungs damage, bronchial infections and heart problems.

This in turn could shorten life expectancy and put at risk people’s right to life and a healthy environment, she added.