By Abdul Razzaq
A recent study indicates that Pakistan can mitigate the risks associated with global climate change by up to three points through initiatives such as reducing CO2 emissions, afforestation, and addressing human vulnerabilities. In 2021, Pakistan improved from being the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change to the eighth.
The study primarily analyzed data from 2000 to 2019, evaluating the impact of severe climatic events like hurricanes, floods, and heatwaves. Notably, Pakistan experienced a 0.52% GDP loss per unit due to temperature changes, with 173 weather-related incidents documented between 2000 and 2019. Mohammad Murtaza Iqbal, a leader from the ruling party, hailed these efforts as a significant achievement.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed down the progression of climate change. Carbon dioxide emissions are rebounding swiftly after a brief reduction during the pandemic.
Global sea levels have risen by 20 cm from 1900 to 2018, increasing by 3.7 mm per year from 2006 to 2018. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attributes heatwaves to human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Countries like Haiti, the Philippines, and Pakistan remain consistently vulnerable to climate-related impacts, with Pakistan losing 0.52% of its GDP per unit due to temperature changes from 2000 to 2019.
While acknowledging Pakistan’s steps to address climate change, it’s essential to note that these efforts must be viewed in the broader context of administrative measures taken in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since 2013.
IMPACTS ON WATER RESOURCES
Water, a vital resource for all life forms, is extensively used in various activities, including agriculture, energy production, manufacturing, and drinking. The increasing global population and rising usage are exerting pressure on water resources. Factors such as decreased precipitation, reduced water flow into streams, irrigation-related salinity, sea level rise, and water pollution contribute to water stresses.
Asia faces a severe threat from climate change, particularly in terms of access to freshwater. Climate change exacerbates issues like droughts, floods, and rising temperatures, leading to increased water evaporation. The annual per capita water availability in Pakistan has drastically decreased over the years, and rising demand and temperatures are expected to further impact this precious resource.
IMPACT ON BALOCHISTAN PROVINCE
Balochistan, representing 45% of Pakistan’s territory and rich in mineral resources, is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The province, with its vast desert and mountainous terrain, has experienced changes in extreme weather patterns over the past 36 years. A comprehensive study from 1980 to 2015 highlights the significance of addressing climate change scenarios in less-explored regions like Balochistan.
IMPACT ON PAKISTAN
Pakistan, despite being rich in natural resources, is not immune to the adverse effects of climate change. Rapid industrialization and geopolitical factors have intensified the challenges posed by climate change.
Altered rainfall patterns, glacial melting, and disruptions to monsoon rainfall impact sectors such as agriculture and energy efficiency.
Pakistan has been identified as one of the ten countries most affected by climate change in the last two decades, experiencing periods of drought, flooding, heatwaves, and natural disasters.
In conclusion, while Pakistan has taken commendable steps to address climate change, sustained and intensified efforts are required to combat the multifaceted challenges posed by the changing climate. It is crucial to focus on comprehensive strategies, both at the national and provincial levels, to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change in the coming years.
(The Writer is a student at the University of Central Punjab, Lahore )