Sherry Rehman, the Minister for Climate Change, stated on Tuesday that while planting trees is necessary to mitigate environmental degradation, it is not and cannot be the primary public policy on global warming.
Sherry Rehman told Dawn that “climate implications are severe in various ways” for a water-stressed country like Pakistan, which the UN predicts will become water-scarce by 2025.
She stated that Pakistan requires immediate knowledge of the magnitude of the current climate disaster.
“If we do not take climate stress seriously both at home and abroad, glacial lake outburst floods, flash floods, heatwaves, and droughts will get worse,” she continued.
Ms. Rehman is correct in saying that reforestation should not be the only policy option. While tree planting is an excellent approach to reduce carbon emissions (since trees are natural “carbon sinks”), it may not be enough to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Trees will “certainly help us reduce climate change, but they won’t reverse it on their own,” writes Michael Marshall in BBC Future. This is because there is already so much CO2 in the atmosphere that even if all greenhouse gas emissions were to cease immediately, the stage would be set for warming.
That isn’t to say that planting trees is pointless; it only means that reforestation must be done with care, taking into account which species to plant and where they should be planted, all while pursuing environmental goals.