ISLAMAAD - Federal Minister for Environment Hamidullah Jan Afridi Thursday said that environmental degradation was causing Rs 365 billion per annum loss to Pakistan's economy. He was addressing a mega event held here to mark the World Environment Day 2008. He said that government was fully aware of the threats posed by changing conditions of environment and was taking all possible measures to address it. He also announced celebrating the year 2009 as the "Year of Environment", to promote awareness and inspire measures for the protection and betterment of environment. Meanwhile, scores of steps have been announced regarding the "Year of Environment" including the issuance of commemorative stamps and holding of international conferences, exhibitions and launching national programmes in lines with the National Environment Policy, National Energy Conservation Policy and National Sanitation policy. Afridi said that theme of the day, "Kick the Habit Towards a Low Carbon Economy" urged to protect and preserve the environment in which we live and to focus on the pressing challenge of carbon emissions reduction, which is now regarded as "the greatest challenge facing the world". Quoting a recent report issued by United Nations, the Minister said that global temperature rise of 2- 4.5 0C was almost inevitable in the 21st Century, which, he said, would lead to associated changes in precipitation, glacier melting, sea level rise, increase in the intensity and frequency of floods, droughts, cyclones etc. He said that Pakistan, being party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, was actively cooperating with global community in addressing the climate change issues. He further said that agricultural productivity in the country had been affected by the changes in land and water regimes. Dry lands areas in arid and semi-arid regions have become most vulnerable, which had put the country's food security at risk, he maintained. Earlier, Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan, Additional Secretary Environment, highlighted the serious issue of energy conservation. "Ministry of Environment, realising the need, is vigorously working to tap the renewable energy resources like wind and solar energy but the high cost and lack of resources are main hurdles", Ishtiaq said    He maintained that Pakistan, like other developing countries, was contributing very little to greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere as compared to that of the industrialised countries, but was bearing a disproportionate burden of the adverse impacts of climate change. Recognising this fact, Ishtiaq said, the global convention at the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, had adopted the principle of common responsibilities. He said that principle bounded the developed countries to reduce the carbon emissions below 5 % of the 1990's level by the year 2012, besides providing financial and technical assistance to developing country to offset the climate change impacts in their respective countries. However, the progress in this regard was very slow, he said. On the occasion, UN representative, Martin Mogwanja, read out the massage of UN Secretary General for the World Environment Day 2008 while representative of CDA, IUCN and environmental NGOs also spoke on the occasion.