Role of Industrial Sector in Promoting Environmental Sustainability Cleaner Technology Perspective

In climate change dialogue, private enterprises and industries in particular have long been criticized for sacrificing the environment in pursuit of profit. They consume scarce natural resources and chug out smoke, liquid effluents and hazardous solid wastes that damage the environment. In many developed countries, strict environmental regulations and de-industrialization has greatly reduced the visible symptoms of environmental degradation. However in the developing world, the uncontrolled industrialization and lack of environment friendly practices are causing severe air, water and land pollution. The resulting environmental damage is often blamed on the inherent greed of private sector.

The advocates of private enterprise reject this blame. They point out that there is no evidence that industries are less polluting when they are publicly owned. Given the right incentive, private sector enterprises can be encouraged to research and adopt environment friendly technologies and practices. They further point out that majority of private sector enterprises are already trying to change their image from environmental villains by adopting environment friendly practices. Moreover, many private sector enterprises are actually making profit by assisting other enterprises in adopting environmental friendly practices.

Both of the perspectives noted above have some truth. However, we won’t get into the debate of whether private sector is actually a villain or a partner in environmental protection rather we will focus on mainstream debate on how private sector enterprises can ensure environment protection.

From a cleaner technology perspective, production efficiency and pollution control are two steps through which sustainable industrial production can be achieved.  From this perspective, private sector needs to adopt a holistic approach that takes into account the environmental risks associated with each phase in the production process and curtail environmental pollution through adoption of end of pipe measures. Occurring at the end of production process, End of Pipe measures refer to methods to remove already formed contaminants form air, water, soil, waste, product, etc. Once measures have been taken to reduce the hazardous pollutants, next step is to improve production efficiency. Higher energy and material efficiency not only improves the production levels but also keeps down the environmental burdens.

However, it should be kept in mind that this is not the perfect solution. End of pipe measures only provide a short term solution by reducing exposure levels of local residents. These measures often change the form of the pollution rather than eliminating it. For example, tall stacks only displace air pollution over greater areas rather than eliminating it. This approach can be contrasted with preventing contamination from occurring in the first place. We need strategies that solve the problem before they get into the pipe. We need both the source control (keeping pollutants out of the environment) and treatment (removing pollutants from air, water, etc). We need to find new ways of making industrial production environmentally sustainable without compromising the economic gains. For this purpose, we need a combination of government regulations, public – private partnership, research in environment friendly practices and pressure from civil society.


Climate Change and Urbanization

Pakistan ranks high in the countries that are most vulnerable to the climate change threat. According to ADB, by the end of 21st century, the temperature in the majority of the Asian countries will reach inhabitable levels. A temperature rise of 6 degrees Celsius is expected in the Asian countries, with an increase of 8 degrees Celsius in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and China.

We are already experiencing the climate change related impacts in Pakistan in form of hot summers, rising sea levels, unpredictable rainfalls, floods, droughts, and human displacement and these impacts will only grow worse in near future. This rising temperature and heat waves will not only endanger lives but will also disrupt the national economy, weather conditions, agricultural output, industries, and trade. It will deepen the vulnerabilities at all levels and will undermine any hope of achieving inclusive and sustainable development.

But solely blaming nature and climate change for Pakistan’s increasing vulnerability is not right. We need to move beyond our limited outlook and look at the multi-faceted reality of climate change impacts. A significant feature in this context is rapid urbanization and the related environmental degradation that amplifies Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change. Incompetent urban planning, deforestation, industrialization, incompetent engineering, and land mining for development have degraded urban ecologies that could have better endured the climate change impacts. For example, Karachi, the industrial hub of Pakistan, is facing recurrent floods not only because of rainfall variability but also due to illegal developments that choke the city’s natural drainage system.

So, one of the biggest challenges that Pakistani government and policymakers are facing today is the transformation of cities into sustainable and environmentally friendly spaces. The top-down governance, the jurisdiction of federal and provincial authorities over land use, and a fragmented structure of local governance have given city mayors and chief ministers free reign over urban planning and their actions are limited to beautification projects and free transport corridors.

Authorities need to overcome the ongoing political struggles over resources, infrastructures, and services and need to focus on climate change adaption in the context of extended urbanization that pays attention to urban design, land use, and zoning interventions. The present condition of cities in Pakistan requires a proactive action that reshapes our cities and makes them environment-friendly spaces.

Agriculture and Pakistan

Though I lived most of my life in urban areas my roots belong to rural areas and I spent a remarkable time of my life in a rural part of the country. There is a huge difference if I compare the time of today and time I experienced 5-10 years ago. I feel the change in the air I breathe and the path I walk on.

I see dull faces of farmers worried about annual yield and how they are going to pay their debts. Sadly, the government of Pakistan has not planned much about their agriculture sector on which 50-60% of their population relies on. Pakistan has the best canal and irrigation system in the world and we are not taking full benefit from this blessing.

We are witnessing a majority of rural sector migrating to the urban sector because of immense losses in agriculture businesses. Ultimately, population density in big cities increases rapidly causing other major issues. This is also a major cause of the falling economy, food crisis, and inequality. The rights of the farmers must be reviewed and their benefit must be made sure otherwise a major source of income would vanish within just a few years.

Especially the areas where Pakistan excels such as cotton, rice, and wheat production, it is God gifted that we have excellent climatic conditions for these. Pakistan needs to improve its production of corn, vegetables, and oilseed so that imports of the country are lessened. Pakistan has everything that needs to be in a developed country but unfortunately, we are not fully benefiting from those resources.

Agriculture is the backbone of the country has declined so much that it has become crucial for Pakistan to stabilize. So, if Pakistan promotes and invests in agriculture more like it should, it would definitely result in prosperity.

Climate Change

Climate change to a developing country Is like a Russian proverb which translation is “Trouble never comes alone” Already a political prone area swinging between poverty and unemployment Pakistan has been ranked as a seventh most vulnerable country prone to climate change effects and disasters, according to climate risk index 2018.

Series of disastrous events form last twenty years engulfed almost 11,000 lives and almost USD 4 billion economy loses. This is the figure that is being marked but there is much to be considered in the terms of agricultural and vegetation lose and list goes long …

Pakistan like other developing countries is suffering for the sins of others with the carbon emission 0.48 percent in comparison to the 29.51, 14.34, 6.81 percent of China, United state of America and India respectively. According to this ratio, Pakistan is the least contributor to carbon emission. Although, some are of the view that Pakistan can earn and earned a lot by Carbon trading but is that little is enough to mitigate and adapt climate change effects? The answer would be absolute NO! a big NO!

Considering all above facts, one can conclude the discussion that Pakistan is suffering because of others but is this isn’t a lame excuse to go with? One can’t deny the fact but on the other hand what we are doing to drag ourselves out of it. Is our Climate Change Policy is effectively implementing by concern organizations? Do we have a collaborative mechanism pool in our strengths collectively with Government and civil sector organizations?

Although, Trump policies came up with a huge cut in financing in development sector especially on climate change issues hope is still there. At least Pakistan can do much considering allocated resources in mass sensitization on Climate Change Adaptation and mitigation measures. Little investment of government in renewable energy like Hydro, Biomass, Solar and wind energy can make a remarkable change to Pakistan’s economy. Furthermore, coordination between intergovernmental departments and CSOs is the call of time to come up with effective and sustainable solution to the problem and to avoid overlapping roles and responsibilities of each.