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Why Pakistan should not neglect CO2 offsetting

According to The World Bank, in Pakistan almost 29% of the overall CO2 emissions are caused by our transport, as compared to the 11.5% in India.

This is perhaps due to the greater industrial emissions there, but the point to be noted here is that our automobiles are a major contributor to our overall CO2 emissions that are ultimately causing a serious environmental degradation.

(From the graphic below), an idea can clearly be made about the significant growth in the carbon dioxide (CO2)emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

We are ranked 30th in the world with respect to our carbon emissions, which isn’t that bad considering that countries like Spain, Italy or Russia for that matter are the greater source of CO2 emissions than us even with lesser population.

This most likely is due to their greater industrial development and most certainly due to the greater number of cars. According toForbes, the European countries despite inhabiting only 20% of the world’s population, are actually owning 80% of the world’s automobiles.

But the point here is that in Pakistan as well, the automobile ownership is on the high and each year new records of local automobile manufacturing and import are being set, as often reported on the media.

Moreover, the completion of CPEC will also mean even more transportation on the roads resulting in even more growth in CO2 emissions per annum.

So, in spite of following the tracks of these developed countries and thinking about offsetting CO2 emissions quite late in the route towards development, we should intensely bring this debate of CO2 offsetting to our forums. Now, the most common approach that is considered widely for offsetting CO2 emissions or in other words, counter balancing CO2 emissions is plantation.

It is a common understanding that growing more trees will absorb the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere and will ultimately contribute towards cleaning it, but an understanding that is relatively less common is that trees store the absorbed CO2 in them till the time they die or are cut down due to any reason, after which the absorbed CO2 retained by the trees is released back.

It means that preservation of existing forestation is vital alongside growing new forests.

Now a days,we can find multiple carbon foot print calculators online that can help us determine how much we need to do in order to counter balance the CO2 our vehicle would have released. Just to give you an idea- one such interesting estimation (for an average daily ride/drive of 25km)that Patrick Everett shared in his article on Top is as follows:

Similarly, to give you another idea specifically to those who can afford in our society, according to the calculator of, in order to offset CO2 emitted during a 1000km drive in a petrol car that consumes 9 liters for 100km you can offset your CO2 emissions by  donating 12USD to their forestation projects. Well, this is just to give every one a rough idea regarding ongoingCO2 offsetting calculations and initiatives.

Having said that, the entire burden of Co2 offsetting cannot be put on the trees rather as Ken Caldeira points out in The Scientific American, a greater emphasis should be on targeting our energy system, as according to this research forests in some regions and scenarios have a less impact in terms of reducing global warming resulted by the CO2 emissions.

Then, there is the debate of ever green and deciduous trees and their respective ability to store CO2.

That’s why, a multidimensional societal focus would be required to curtail the negative impacts of a rapidly increasing automobile traffic on our roads, by focusing on greener mobility technologies, greener fuel i.e. the fuel which doesn’t contain harmful additives etc. alongside well thought-out forestation programs.

All this shouldn’t be that hard as our close neighbor China is aggressively focusing on such technologies and initiatives, so much so that they are working over a time table to ban fossil fuel based vehicle production in the near future as reported by the international media.

Hence alongside adopting greener technologies,not only auto consumers but also auto makers must be convinced to commit themselvesto formal and long-term forestation initiatives, keeping in consideration our regional dynamics and ecosystem.

Although it’s difficult to convince automakers to do so, when it’s hard to convince them to provide air bags or some thing as basic as central locking in the many cars they make, or on the other hand, it will be difficult to convince auto consumers to change their driving habits for example,encouraging them to drive the cars gently rather than pressing the gas paddle all the time so that less fuel is burnt, but hay! Forums like these are now growing in reach. They impact, to a greater extent, consumer opinions and generate pressure to improve auto production.

That is why,  people who have written on greener auto technologies and other experts who frequently write on this issue, must explore and write on this particular subject more and enlighten us more on this subject and develop pressure on our society to start thinking and acting in this regard intensely now.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent ARY policies or opinion.

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