Facing the Heat: Pakistan’s Fight Against Climate Change

Pakistan, a land of towering mountains and fertile plains, is on the frontline of climate change.

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The country, though a minor contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, bears a heavy brunt of its consequences.

The Looming Threat:

Pakistan’s vulnerability stems from several factors. Its reliance on monsoon rains, coupled with dependence on glaciers for freshwater, makes it susceptible to erratic weather patterns. Rising temperatures, melting glaciers, and unpredictable rainfall patterns threaten agricultural productivity, water security, and trigger extreme weather events like floods, droughts, and heatwaves. The devastating floods of 2022, displacing millions, serve as a stark reminder of the looming threat.

Taking Action:

Pakistan’s government has recognized the gravity of the situation and taken steps to address it. The National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) outlines a comprehensive strategy focusing on adaptation and mitigation. Efforts include promoting water conservation techniques, developing drought-resistant crops, investing in renewable energy, and improving early warning systems for natural disasters.

Measuring Success:

The effectiveness of these actions remains a work in progress. While early warning systems have helped mitigate disaster impact, infrastructure development for flood control and water storage needs improvement. The shift towards renewable energy sources is slow, and public awareness campaigns require further amplification.

Proactive Measures:

Pakistan is making strides in alerting its citizens. The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) regularly issues weather advisories. The government and NGOs work together to educate farmers on climate-resilient practices. However, reaching remote areas and ensuring widespread adoption of these measures remains a challenge.

Governance and Responsibility:

Climate change mitigation and adaptation are shared responsibilities between federal and provincial governments. The NCCP assigns roles to both entities, emphasizing collaboration.

Institutions on the Frontline:

Several Pakistani institutions are actively engaged in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) coordinates national efforts. The Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) works on environmental regulations and policies. Additionally, research institutions like the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and academic institutions play crucial roles.

The Human Cost:

Climate change disrupts lives across Pakistan. Erratic rainfall patterns affect agricultural yields, impacting food security and livelihoods. Rising temperatures pose health risks, particularly for vulnerable communities. Extreme weather events cause displacement, damage infrastructure, and disrupt economic activity.

International Collaboration:

Pakistan actively engages with the international community to address climate change. It participates in international climate change conferences like the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and seeks financial and technical assistance for adaptation and mitigation efforts.

The Road Ahead:

Pakistan’s fight against climate change requires a multi-pronged approach. Continued investment in adaptation and mitigation strategies, coupled with international cooperation, is crucial. Public awareness campaigns need to be strengthened to encourage widespread participation. By prioritizing climate action, Pakistan can build a more resilient future for its citizens.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is Pakistan affected by climate change? Pakistan ranks among the top 10 countries worldwide most affected by climate change and natural disasters. During the past century, an annual mean temperature increase of around 0.63°C has been observed in the country, and sea level along the Karachi coast has risen by approximately 1.1mm per year.

What are the 4 climate changes? Global temperature is warming, weather patterns are changing, polar ice is melting, and sea level is rising.

What is the climate Act in Pakistan? The Prime Minister shall, by notification in the official Gazette, establish the institutions to: co-ordinate and supervise enforcement of the provisions of this Act; monitor implementation of international agreements relating to climate change specified in the Schedule; coordinate, supervise and guide.

What is the main reason for climate change in Pakistan?  Although significant factors exacerbating the effects of climate change in Pakistan include an inadequate sewage system, air pollution from industrial waste, and deforestation, the country could not afford to proactively fix these, nor prepare for flooding and heavy rains.

Why is climate change so bad in Pakistan? Pakistan faces severe land degradation issues due to heavy deforestation and the intensive use of agricultural land. Land degradation exacerbates both the effects climate change has on the country and threatens biodiversity.

Understanding Climate Change: A Basic Guide

Human actions are leading to a global increase in temperatures, resulting in more severe heatwaves and elevated sea levels. Experts predict that these trends will exacerbate in the future, but they emphasize that immediate measures can mitigate the most severe impacts of climate change.

What is climate change?

Climate change refers to the prolonged alteration in the Earth’s typical temperatures and atmospheric conditions.

In the past ten years, the global average temperature has been approximately 1.2 degrees Celsius higher compared to the late 1800s.

It has now been confirmed that global warming exceeded 1.5C across the 12 month period between February 2023 and January 2024. That followed 2023 being declared the warmest year on record.

The temperature increase was driven by human-caused climate change and boosted by the natural El Niño weather phenomenon.

Humans are primarily responsible for causing climate change through their activities. While natural factors like El Niño can influence short-term weather patterns, they cannot account for the rapid warming observed in the last century, as indicated by the UN’s climate body, the IPCC. The IPCC attributes this long-term climate change to human actions, particularly the widespread use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas in residential, industrial, and transportation sectors.

When fossil fuels are burned, they emit greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2).  These gases create a greenhouse effect, trapping additional heat in the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface, leading to planetary warming.

Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, marked by significant human utilization of fossil fuels, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has surged by approximately 50 percent.

The CO2 emissions stemming from fossil fuel combustion exhibit a unique chemical signature that corresponds to the type increasingly detected in the atmosphere.

What are the effects of climate change so far?

The global average temperature increase of 1.2C seen in the past decade might not sound much.

However, it has had a huge effect on the environment, including:

  • more frequent and intense extreme weather, such as heatwaves and heavy rainfall

  • rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets, contributing to sea-level rise

  • huge declines in Arctic sea-ice

  • ocean warming

    People’s lives are also changing.

    For example, parts of East Africa suffered their worst drought in 40 years, putting more than 20 million people at risk of severe hunger.

    In 2022, intense European heatwaves led to an abnormal increase in deaths.

     

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