Environmentalist and biologists on Friday hailed the government decision for allocating a sufficient amount in federal budget for fiscal year 2023-24, amid the prevailing economic situation, for the Climate Change Division. According to the budgetary document, released on Friday, the government earmarked Rs 4050 million for various ongoing and new schemes of the Climate Change Division in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the financial year 2023-24. Noted environmentalist Mahood Khalid Qamar said that the already going on projects in the sector were particularly important as climate change had been a result of major increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, mostly from fossil fuel emissions. In Pakistan, environmental degradation and climate change are adversely affecting the economy, livelihood of the poor and sustainable development, he added. The major chunk of allocation for agriculture and bio-diversity sectors would play a critical role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he hoped. Eco-degradation and climate change are a major global concern and Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries to these phenomena, he remarked, adding since the last two decades in Pakistan, green cover is vanishing at a rapid pace, almost doubling. Noted Environmentalist and former Director Programmes WWF-Pakistan Dr Muhammad ijaz said that the allocated budget for the sector would further develop and strengthen the much awaited areas like afforestation and controlling carbon emission. In 1990, four per cent of the land area of Pakistan was covered with forests, and in 2010 only 2.2 per cent of the land was covered with forests, while according to the recent studies, the country had the highest rate of deforestation in Asia, he said. Thirty-two per cent of the population of Pakistan lives in urban areas and if the current growth rate of urbanisation is kept at the same ratio, Pakistan’s urban population will surpass its rural population by 2030, that is only around seven more years, he added. Change in climate is a major threat to food production in Pakistan. It is seriously affecting agriculture, forest and fisheries. It is rapidly increasing sea levels that may submerge many parts of the coastal areas of Sindh which are not only rich in Indus delta, but are also high productive cropping areas, Dr. Ijaz said. The budgetary document reveals that under the ongoing schemes, the government had allocated Rs 3,950 million for three ongoing schemes including Rs 26.5 million for capacity building on water quality and monitoring and SDG (6.1), Rs 20.95 million for Climate Resilient Urban Human Settlements Unit and Rs 3,902.55 million for a revised project of Up-scaling of Green Pakistan Programme. Under the new schemes, a sum of Rs 100 million was allocated to the Pakistan Bio-safety Clearing House (Pak-BCH) for GMOs Regulation. Noted environmentalist and manager, Food and Markets Programme WWF-Pakistan, Muhammad Irfan, said that comparing to the last year’s budget, the amount allocated for climate change this year was reasonable. Commenting on the budget, he said that growing population, unplanned urban expansion and dependence on natural resources have put immense pressure on governments around the globe and consequently this has created environmental problems that has triggered climate change. Moreover, lack of public awareness funds regarding environmental issues and mismanagement of water and solid waste in past had further aggravated the situation, he added. According to the budgetary document, out of the total allocation, the government allocated the complete amount of Rs 4050 million for climate change sector. Likewise the government has allocated Rs. 2,800 million for a national programme for the improvement of watercourses phase-II, and Rs. 900 million for the national programme for enhancing the commend area in Barani areas of Pakistan and Rs. 700 million for the promotion of olive cultivation on a commercial scale, the budgetary document reveals.