Each year, a thick grey shroud descends over the whole of the northern part of South Asia, on both India Gate in New Delhi and the Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore, as it were. Predictably, news media covers this common environmental problem as separate events: Indian smog and Pakistani smog! Quite often, what is easily forgotten is the fact that environmental problems know no boundaries. In a bid to encourage transboundary collaboration to fight air pollution last year, the then Chief Minister of Pakistani Punjab wrote a letter to his Indian counterpart, Captain Amarinder Singh, proposing regional cooperation to tackle smog. But there was no follow-up on the issue from either side and the initiative is now forgotten.
We could learn something from how the US and Canada dealt with acid rain a few decades ago. In 1979, officials, scientists, industrialists and environmentalists from both countries met in Toronto to discuss threats, common challenges and sources of this particular menace. After a few years, both nations signed an international protocol (Acid Rain Treaty) on nitrogen-oxide, a major contributor to acid rain. Today, as a result of joint efforts, acid rain is not a problem anymore on the North American continent.
Following local protocols are necessary, of course, but regional cooperation including sharing technology, best practices and research in a collaborative manner will go a long way in the war against air pollution in particular.