Raja Taimur Hassan
The Express Tribune
Published Date: Aug 5, 2014
Time for Pakistan to wake up to climate change
We are witnessing that global warming is leading to more volatile
weather patterns in the world, which is causing many different kinds of
humanitarian crises. The fifth assessment report
of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body
that advises governments on climate change, indicates that if the world
continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, global warming will
cross the two degrees Celsius threshold, agreed by governments as
limiting the worst impacts of climate change, by the end of the 21st
Do we ever think what would happen to the world, when the global
temperature breaches the two degree Celsius threshold? Heatwaves will
be more frequent and will last longer. Most wet regions will get more
rainfall, and most dry regions less.
Glaciers and the Arctic Sea ice cover will continue to shrink, and the
sea level will rise more quickly. It would disturb the ecosystem,
negatively affect human health and burden the fresh water resources.
The worst has yet to come. Climate change will render huge losses and
damages to the economy and large chunks of population would be struck
by poverty. Millions of people would be displaced due to extreme weather
events. It would also pose a risk to global food security and up to 25
per cent staple crop production would drop down in major parts of the
The world has already witnessed and experienced the dire consequences
of climate change in Pakistan. Only in 2010, devastating floods swept
through Pakistan which made for the kind of extreme weather event which
the IPCC says was the result of climate change. Almost 22 million people
were displaced, millions of houses were destroyed, several villages
were inundated and precious lives were lost.
Pakistan has been ranked highly on the list of countries hit worst by weather extremes in 2012 by Germanwatch.
The index, which ranks countries affected over the last 20 years by
weather extremes such as flooding and storms. Environmentalists estimate
that environmental degradation cost Pakistan’s economy over Rs365
billion every year.
There are enough evidences to suggest that climate change and
environmental degradation, during past two to three decades, is
threatening human health and food security, water and energy security,
and human and individual security. This reveals that climate change is a
threat multiplier to all other threats.
Climate change is a real, transnational threat. It has now become a
serious challenge for global security. The world has to adapt now,
otherwise these rising climate change threats could cause serious
consequences to global security. There is dire need of cross-border
information sharing regarding climate change and need of strong
cooperation and collaboration among countries and regions.
The IPCC report also highlights that global warming will hit Asia the
hardest, with flooding, famine and rising sea levels putting hundreds
of millions at risk. But the majority of the marginalised communities in
the disaster-prone areas have no knowledge, no capacity, and no early
warning system to combat with harmful impact of climate change. Despite
having a lot of potential to tackle the challenges of climate change,
very little has been done regarding mitigation, preparedness, awareness
and adaptation strategies.
There is need to strengthen the marginalised communities and develop
their capacity in order to prevent them from huge losses and damages.
The role of the media is very crucial in spreading awareness regarding
climate hazards. However, no significant measures have been taken so far
in order to curb the challenges of climate change.
Our natural resources are dying due to negligence by policy-makers
and poor capacity of the state to deal with the issue. Countries will
not be able to address their development and poverty reduction
priorities unless they reduce pollution, increase resilience to
disasters, promote cleaner energy, better manage forests and natural
capital, create livable cities and increase food security.
There is dire need for greater political wisdom to address policy
gaps and policy should focus on adoption of frameworks being developed