Rina Saeed Khan

Rina Saeed Khan

The author is an environmental journalist based in Islamabad. She most recently authored the book, "From Mountains to Mangroves: Protecting Pakistan's Natural Heritage" on her travels throughout Pakistan. She tweets @rinasaeed (twitter.com/rinasaeed)

How Greta Thunberg galvanised the crowds at COP25

The arrival of the 16 year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg at the IFEMA Conference Centre in Madrid, where the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2019 (COP25) is being held, suddenly electrified the otherwise uneventful climate moot. She was quickly mobbed by youth delegates and negotiators keen to take pictures of the inspiring young leader who has become a global celebrity in little over a year. In fact, she left shortly afterwards to return to the city centre to lead a massive climate march later that Friday evening. When I first heard Thunberg speak at COP24 in Katowice, Poland she was just ...

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The Clean Green Pakistan Index: A futile exercise?

Pakistan’s cities are ridiculously congested. They often feature a polluted water supply, over flowing garbage and toxic air pollution. As many environmentalists point out, they are gradually becoming unlivable, which is why many of us have welcomed the recent introduction of the Clean Green Pakistan Index. This index aims to encourage competition among Pakistan’s cities on various indicators like access to clean drinking water, safe sanitation, effective solid waste management and tree plantation. The index was launched in Islamabad this week and Prime Minister Imran Khan gave the example of his home-town Lahore which, in his younger days, was ...

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Is Pakistan’s smog epidemic about to get worse?

Environmentalists in Islamabad were aghast this week when precious old trees in the capital were cut in order to make a bridge to connect sector G-7 to G-8 over the Express Highway, a signal free corridor. Despite their pleas that an alternative loop existed nearby which could be used, the Capital Development Authority went ahead to facilitate traffic flows. Islamabad’s activists are ringing alarm bells because this is exactly what happened in Lahore, with all its fancy signal free corridors, over passes and under passes which steadily ate away the old trees and green belts of the city. The ...

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The resilient tribesmen and Balochistan’s Chilghoza trees

Last month at a ceremony held in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Action Summit, a project from a remote part of Balochistan, the Kasa Ghar Community Based Organisation of the Sulaiman Range, won the Equator Prize for conserving Chilghoza forests. I was thrilled to hear about the global recognition (the project was one amongst 22 communities across the world which were selected for this prize) as I have actually visited these Chilghoza forests in the Shirani district of Balochistan. By creating a successful value-added market model for Chilghoza nuts, this community-based organisation has conserved around 9,000 ...

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How effective is PTI’s climate change policy?

Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan began his historic speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last week with climate change, calling it one of the “most urgent problems the world must address”. Climate change was of course on the agenda of this year’s global leaders gathering in New York. But to be fair Khan has noted the importance of climate change in several of his earlier speeches to the nation as well. 1st let me talk about climate change; I have seen a lot of leaders talk about this. But I don’t see world leaders really realizing the urgency ...

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The day climate change finally made it to the front page in Pakistan

Before September 20th, the last time I marched for the climate was a decade ago outside the venue of the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009. It was a cold, dark day and there had been skirmishes with the Danish police. It was a depressing march and as protestors huddled around bonfires made of banners, I thought it a fitting end to a summit that had failed to deliver a climate deal. The world had not come together to cut carbon emissions as we had all hoped. In fact, key governments bought themselves a few more years until the Paris Agreement. ...

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Will you march for climate change?

I first met Greta Thurnberg, the 16-year-old Swedish school girl who is now inspiring young people all over the world to protest against the climate crisis, back in December 2018 at the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference. Hair tied in two pigtails, she looked much younger than her age, was extremely shy and spoke haltingly in English on several forums at the conference held in Poland. Thurnberg speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference held in Poland Sure, the media was following her around even then, but no one imagined she would become such a huge ...

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The world will not forgive ‘Captain Chainsaw’ if the Amazon continues to burn

The fires in the Amazon rainforest have been the current topic of discussion this past week on social media, as people share photographs and outrage over the destruction of the ‘lungs of the earth’. However, a lot of the information is not exactly accurate, including many outdated pictures that have gone viral. Some Brazilians also feel that there is some sort of conspiracy against their new government, led by their right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, especially since he has dismissed the scientific consensus about climate change, calling it a hoax. Given his allegations of a “fake news campaign built against our sovereignty,” perhaps the best ...

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Lesson for Pakistan: “It is not about how much water you have, but how you manage it”

Before Prime Minister Imran Khan touched down in Washington, I landed in America’s capital, invited by the State Department for a foreign press tour titled ‘Creating a More Water Secure World’. I was curious to learn how the US was dealing with droughts, floods and warmer temperatures given that the country is pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Donald Trump recently dismissed a study produced by his own administration warning of the potentially catastrophic impact of climate change, saying, “I don’t believe it.” While I was there on the 10-day tour along with journalists from other developing countries, the northern hemisphere ...

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Fed up of your high electricity bills and constant load-shedding? Go solar!

Last week in Lahore, when temperatures were touching 45 degrees Celsius, everywhere I went the conversation revolved around not load-shedding but high electricity bills – rich and poor were reeling from their June electricity bills. The recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has resulted in subsidies being removed from electricity and gas, and citizens are now left to cope with huge bills. “The only option is to go solar – we have our elderly mother in the house who needs her air conditioner (AC) running 24/7 all summer long, plus our room and my brother’s room and guestroom. We ...

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