Pakistan’ War Against Climate Change

Compiled By Tanweer Ahmed

As the world prepared 77th UNGA session in New York City, Pakistan is battling unprecedented floods, rapid glacial melts and phenomena like glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) on the one hand and desertification, on the other hand, causing a reduction in the quality and quantity of agricultural production and posing a threat to the livestock and livelihood. 

The rapidly deteriorating situation requires innovative solutions and relentless commitment to reduce the impacts of climate change on our communities that, more specifically in the post-pandemic world, are worsening the existing divides and inequalities.

Pakistan has significant diversity in ecosystems and a degree of uncertainty with respect to climate impact. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) named Pakistan a global ‘Forestry Champion’, and the World Economic Forum (WEF) declared Pakistan a Champion for Nature. 

In the current ecological trajectory, the most serious challenges for Pakistan are the threats to its water security, food security, and energy security, owing to possible shifts in weather patterns, both on temporal and spatial scales, in particular, increased variability of monsoon. Approximately less than one-fourth of the country’s population is poor and directly dependent on natural resources for their livelihood whether agriculture, hunting, forestry, fisheries, etc. Thus, the environment-poverty nexus cannot be ignored.

In the context of Pakistan, Climate Change can wreak mayhem. Countries having less political stability, ineffective governance, and whimsical decision-making would not be able to avert the perils of climate change. Palpably, agrarian societies may have more challenges than non-agrarian societies.

Here we raise three important points: first is that climate would pave way for migration which would trigger conflicts. If we see this in Pakistan’s case, it is highly likely. Second point is that climate change would mar the capacity of state to provide people with opportunities to earn livelihood. Third is that lower-middle income countries can easily fall prey to climate change. Climate-related issues in conjunction with existing issues (such as tottering economy, inflation-stricken people, poverty, political instability, trust deficit among provinces and migrants from Afghanistan) may exacerbate human security issues.  

Given the situation of climate, Eco-system Restoration Initiative has been launched by the government of Pakistan. Adaptation policies have been adopted to combat climate change, it includes: biodiversity conservation, afforestation, enhancing policy environment consistent with the objectives of Pakistan’s Nationally Determined Contribution and attaining Land Degradation Neutrality. Furthermore, Economic Survey 2019-2020 shows some of the important initiatives regarding climate change. 

  1. National committee on establishment of Carbon Market has been established.
  2. In order to mitigate the carbon emission impacts of vehicles on the environment and its associated costs, the Government of Pakistan has approved its National Electric Vehicle Policy targeting a 30pc shift to electric by 2030. In addition, the world’s first “Zero emissions” metro line project has been launched in the city of Karachi. 
  3. Pakistan’s Second National communication has been developed and submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat. 
  4. A “Clean-Green Cities Index” has been initiated in 20 cities to trigger a shift towards improved waste management and sanitation. Pakistan has also decided to get out of its plastic addiction by banning the single use plastic.

Pakistan has taken several steps but that are not sufficient. Many of the initiatives are not practically implemented. Political instability is one of the important reasons that are hindering the Pakistan’s efforts to combat climate change. Imran Khan was quite aware of climate change and his initiative to growing a large number of trees was acknowledged worldwide.

Environmental experts have suggested reparations to Pakistan and other affected countries for disaster management. Pakistan not only requires technology for disaster prevention but resources and technical expertise for rehabilitation from international community. The demand for reparations is absolutely justified as Pakistan is facing the consequences not of its own making but of developed world. It is incumbent on them to take responsibility and provide relief to marginalized communities for disaster that they have caused. 

This is truly a global problem and requires global efforts to mitigate the impact and carnage. Pakistan requires the technological expertise and financial resources to manage, rehabilitate, and reconstruct. Pakistan is doing everything it can to manage the devastation alone but it is not possible without the help of international community.