Like much of the rest of South Asia, Pakistan is uniquely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. To help combat rising temperatures and an increasing number of heat waves, the new incoming government is proposing the country plant 10 billion trees over the course of five years in order to restore the country’s depleted forests.
“It is now imperative to tackle climate change and reverse environmental degradation as Pakistan’s situation will only worsen as the economy grows,” Imran Khan’s PTI party wrote in its official platform.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute has classified Pakistan as the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change. NBC News reports that while the environment and global warming were not major campaign issues during Pakistan’s recent election, government officials and others have been talking more about how to protect Pakistani people from rising temperatures and events like melting glaciers in the country’s northeast.
This new reforestation plan is an extension of future prime minister Imran Khan’s “Billion Tree” project, which planted about 865,000 trees in the Khyber Pass between 2014 and 2017.
The proposal to repopulate the forests has gained widespread praise both inside and outside of Pakistan. “Irrespective of the number of trees planted, it is important for our country, which has so many other challenges, to have the lungs to support our environment,” Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, the CEO of the environmental group LEAD Pakistan told NBC News. “We welcome Khan’s promise and we looking forward to holding him to account.”
— Erik Solheim (@ErikSolheim) July 30, 2018
The head of the United Nations Environment Programme also signaled his support of the idea. “Pakistan is one of the countries at the frontlines of climate change,” Erik Solheim tweeted.