Why is Eco-Driving Important in the wake of climate change?
If we can adapt our lifestyle during the pandemic -COVID-19 crisis, why can’t we become eco-conscious while dealing with the climate crisis? Considering that climate crisis poses even greater existential threats to all of us!
Globally the response of governments around the world in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic such as lockdown and work from home policies, drastically altered patterns of mobility and energy demand around the world. Many international borders were closed and populations were confined to their homes. According to a research, daily global CO2 emissions decreased by 17% in early April 2020 compared with 2019 mean levels. These statistics point to the need and possibility for an eco-friendly behavioural change. With this hope, the Institute of Urbanism with FNF Pakistan started a campaign on greener driving practices, i.e. eco-driving with local taxi and public transport drivers of twin cities of Islamabad Rawalpindi in Pakistan.
Urban Air Pollution Issues in twin cities:
To accommodate the growing population Islamabad and Rawalpindi (also known as twin cities of Pakistan) have experienced rapid urbanization and expansion in road transport infrastructure. However, public transport has not kept up with the population growth. This has resulted in increased reliance on urban travel via private motorized vehicles thus contributing to the issue of climate change in a number of ways;
- increase in emissions from vehicles increases the city’s carbon footprint
- loss of green cover in the city as a result of increased expansion of road infrastructure for accommodating private motorised vehicles
- encroachment on green spaces and vacant lots for parking in the city and
- Urban heat island impact in the cities due to disproportion between the built-up area, and green cover/open spaces thus increasing susceptibility of cities to adverse impacts of climate crisis
“Almost 40% of overall air pollution is caused by transport sector. Seasonal changes in temperature have devastating ripple effects on floods, melting glaciers, rising sea levels that in turn impact livelihoods and health.” Shabina Faraz (TW @Shabinafaraz), an avid environmentalist, shared with the drivers of local and public transport in the twin cities.
Adding to Shabina’s point, Afia Salam(TW @afiasalam) shared via zoom from Karachi, “Air pollution expedites pandemic spread and also climate changes hence working to decrease air pollution is everyone’s responsibility as it impacts everyone”.
Eco Driving 01: What is SMOG?
As more cars appear on roads, citizens and government need to work together to decrease the number of cars via public transportation, ride sharing and eco-driving habits
Role of Government :
“There is an environment protection agency in each province that works to ensure protection of the environment and these agencies are implementing laws for a greener country” as shared by Ms. Farzana Altaf Director General, Environment Protection Agency (TW @DGPakEPA ) “As more cars appear on roads, citizens and government need to work together to decrease the number of cars via public transportation, ride sharing and eco-driving habits” Ms. Altaf noted.
“E-vehicle policy and Euro-V are being introduced to curtail the emissions and deal with the issue of SMOG in Pakistan” Malik Amin Aslam (TW @aminattock ), Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate change.
Mr Aslam spoke about the various strategies and policies adopted by the government to bring down the impacts of climate change and particularly SMOG. The government has also recently introduced Vehicular Inspection and Certification system in Pakistan which will bound all drivers to get their vehicles tested in order to drive on the road.
E-vehicle policy and Euro-V are being introduced to curtail the emissions and deal with the issue of SMOG in Pakistan
Eco-Driving : Solution to SMOG?
While air pollution smog’s hazardous impacts on human health and the environment are understood abstractly, there is a lack of more nuanced understanding amidst our public that results in irresponsible behaviors by individuals and organizations. The changes in fuel use in the past few years with the introduction of more motor vehicles on roads worldwide, have degraded air quality and contributed to high levels of greenhouse gases that slowly destroy the atmosphere.
The breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in reduced human mobility thus leading to improved air quality. This is turn highlighted a better understanding and linkage between sources of GHG and air quality. Speakers emphasized the importance of environment friendly behavior and civic responsibility as a means to reduce threat to the nature and human health. In the midst of global pandemic, the importance and need for clean air as preventive health measure is reverberating.
The impact of inefficient means of urban mobility on climate change was the theme of the workshop organized by Friedrich Naumann Foundation in collaboration with Environment Protection Agency and Institute of Urbanism 10th October 2020. The talk also aimed at raising awareness amongst various stakeholders regarding greener driving practices, i.e. eco-driving.
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