Author: Peerzada Shahmeer Alum

Climate change is one of the most exigent and threatening predicaments that the modern world faces. Amongst other types of pollution, “Smog” pollution (a combination of fog and air pollutants) has been in the spotlight for some time, and has affected many areas of the Punjab province. Smog has imminent health and safety hazards, and it is due to smog that Lahore has been declared the most polluted city in the world, with the worst air quality index (AQI).

Notwithstanding the difficulties surrounding tackling this challenge, the initiative taken by our team of ‘O’ Level students is a great example of what our youth can do for sustainability.

Team Contra Pollutio, which translates from Latin to “eliminating pollution”, strives to spread awareness about smog and its health consequences. We have conducted seminars in various schools around Lahore to proliferate their message. We promote a sustainable outlook, and encourage the use of environment friendly vehicles such as cycles, public transport, hybrid and electric vehicles.

Author: Peerzada Shahmeer Alum

We’ve engaged in research on the causes of smog specifically within the Punjab region and have interviewed various academics and professors who are knowledgeable about the field. Our findings enabled us to learn that a plethora of factors including (but not limited to) carbon emissions from road transport, and the release of photochemical and sulfurous particulate matter from industries and brick kilns are the prime causes. Long term exposure to smog, especially in a city like Lahore, can lead to short term ailments such as aggravation of asthma or reduced lung function, and even much more perilous calamities such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the shortening of life expectancy.

We were also graced with the honor of representing Southeast Asia in the YOUNGO constituency of the UNFCCC, which makes policies to be upheld by representatives to the United Nations annual COP conference. Our team was able to represent the localized climate challenges in Lahore in the working group meetings, and have successfully included the localized smog and air quality index predicaments in the joint draft policies of the Air, Forestry, Agriculture, and Climate security working groups. As a result, our workings and international lobbying will reach world leaders, climate experts, and global policy making forums in the 29th COP which will be held in Baku.

Contra Pollutio envisions a clean and green Lahore and has made its impact in several different ways. Not only have we informed the youth populace of Lahore about the collective and individual methods that can be taken to minimize smog’s impact, but we’ve also empowered the next generation of youth to embrace sustainable activism and awareness in their own capacities. We uphold the belief that climate finance and action should be prioritized in our national and international policies as outlined by the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. By fostering these youth-led initiatives, we look onto a brighter future for us and the ones we value.

Our team members including me, Peerzada Shahmeer Alum, along with Sheryar Habib and Fatima Rasool, continue to strive for climate justice and localized collective youth-led efforts in the city and internationally.

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