The UN member countries, including Pakistan, are starting negotiations on Climate Change under the UNFCCC from November 26, 2012 which will continue for the next two weeks in Doha, Qatar. This year’s negotiations might bring some positive interest for the government of Pakistan and it has recently established Climate Change ministry, appointed a federal minister and approved national climate change policy for the country. Some good initiatives…. however the major question is- How this government or the one to come in power from next year is capable to handle climate crisis in Pakistan.
One of the concerning indicators is the fact that how many people in our country are aware that such ministry exists in Pakistan or we have a national policy on climate change. A majority of our people are not aware that a high profile UN negotiation is taking place to decide for their future in combating extreme weather events. At least, some thing our people know well that they are confronted with changing weather patterns, flooding in a row [which brought losses of about 50 billion dollar to this poor nation], unbearable increase in temperature, food insecurity and weather related diseases.
Climate Change is a global issue, however poor and developing countries like Pakistan are more at the forefront of its consequences.
Our innocent people continue to think, after every disaster, that they are perhaps bearing the sufferings because of their unknown sins. The 2010, 2011 and 2012 floods have however opened the eyes of many of us that it is in fact the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation on massive scale, industrialization and transportation, mainly happening in rich/developed countries, which alters our ecosystem and cause extreme weather events.
Climate Change is of course a matter of concern for us all in Pakistan. It is important for the government to keep monitoring Hindukush-Himalayan glacier system in the North. Consecutive flooding has badly affected our Indus River System (IRS) while dry seasons, together with continuous deforestation contribute in regular siltation of dams, resultantly affecting the national energy and water conservation capacity. One of the climate change impacts in longer run would be reduction in water availability and crops productivity leading to food crisis. Regional climate models also predict increased cyclone activities at our coastal areas. Karachi, our economic hub, is one of the risky areas due to sea level rise. Weather would further go uncertain such as increase in temperature [Jacobabad- record temperature: 53.5 °C in May 2010] and heavy rains during monsoon, similar or even worse from the 2012 rains.
It’s the responsibility of our government that this time their participation as a UN member country in Doha negotiations brings concrete initiatives in the country, rather than talks only. Our government needs to advocate on this issue with major polluters. We need sufficient adaptation and technological support to become more resilient to changing weather pattern in Pakistan. Science is clear that stopping global warming and carbon pollution is vital to keep average temperature increase below 2 °C and avoid future climate catastrophes. We are, otherwise business as usual, are on our track to the average temperature increase of 4 °C by the end of this century.