ISLAMABAD: PM on Saturday announced the government’s decision to take concrete measures to curb air pollution in the country. Addressing a press conference in Lahore, he expressed regret that over the past 10 years, a 70 per cent decline had been witnessed in the number of trees in Lahore. “A 70 per cent drop in tree cover has far-reaching consequences,” he said. He said that with a dense tree cover, pollution particles are absorbed by the leaves. And with them being cut, the city had faced a great loss. The premier noted that while crop burning in India and Pakistan as well as smoke from factories and brick kilns were all contributing factors to air pollution, the biggest contributor was vehicular smoke. “What adds the most to air pollution is transport. [To combat] this, we have made certain decisions,” he said. He said that Pakistan relies on 50-60 per cent of imports for oil and currently imports oil that meets the European Union’s Euro 2 emission standard. “We have decided we will import a more clean (environmental friendly) oil, [which will meet] the Euro 4 standard.” “[This Euro 4 compliant oil] has fewer chemicals which pollute the air. By the end of 2020, we will shift to the Euro 5 emission standard. We feel this will have a 90 per cent impact on the quality of air.” He said that the decision had been made after a detailed meeting with SAPM on petroleum division, Nadeem Babar. Announcing other measures, the prime minister said that oil refineries will be given a period of three years to improve the quality of oil produced. “The quality they are producing has a lot of pollutants.” “If they do not move towards producing cleaner oil in this time, we will shut them down,” warned the premier. He also announced that the government had decided to shift the focus of the auto industry towards electric vehicles. “We are holding talks with the car industries, because they have certain reservations.” The prime minister said that an incentive policy will be introduced in 2020. He said the new government policy will lay special emphasis on buses. “The buses that run across our cities will either be hybrid vehicles or electric. Or, we may insist on CNG, like in Delhi, where they run buses only on CNG.” Amnesty International on Friday issued an “urgent action” warning for the hazardous smog that has been engulfing Lahore, saying every resident of the city is at risk due to the poor air quality. The unprecedented step is aimed at mobilising supporters around the world to campaign on behalf of Lahore’s population to seek relief from the authorities, the NGO said in a press release. Lahore topped the list of the world’s most polluted cities for the second consecutive day on Friday. Around 8am, the city’s air quality was recorded by Air Visual to be 385, which is classified as ‘unhealthy’. The Punjab government, for the third time this month, announced the closure of schools due to “dense smog” in three districts, including Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala. “The government’s inadequate response to the smog in Lahore raises significant human rights concerns. The hazardous air is putting everyone’s right to health at risk,” said Rimmel Mohydin, South Asia campaigner at Amnesty International. “The issue is so serious that we are calling on our members around the world to write to the Pakistani authorities to tell them to stop downplaying the crisis and take urgent action to protect people’s health and lives.” ‘Urgent Actions’ are a campaigning tool that Amnesty International uses to mobilise support internationally for victims of human rights violations and for prisoners of conscience. The organisation noted that for one in every two days this month, the air quality in Lahore has been classified as “hazardous” by air quality monitors installed by the United States Consulate in Lahore and the Pakistan Air Quality Initiative.