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Tackle climate change head-on

GERMAN watch, a German think-tank advocating for the prevention of dangerous climate change, has launched its latest Global Climate Risk Index 2018 ranking Pakistan seventh most vulnerable country to climate change. Pakistan is getting recurrently affected from extreme weather events both in the short-term and long-term index. The floods of 2010 placed Pakistan on the top slot among the countries most affected by climate change as it lost US $25.3 billion and 5.4 per cent of the GDP, according to German watch.
Despite diminutive contribution to global GHG emissions, the climate change has taken a heavy toll on the country both in terms of human and material. Just over the last few days, smog in most of the areas of Punjab caused by extended dry periods has paralysed the life as a result of which we saw power breakdowns, accidents on the roads and the people especially children facing health issues. Similarly, we have seen in the past harsh monsoon seasons and the heat waves taking lives of many people in Karachi. Due to global warming, risks include projected recession of the HKH glaciers and carbon soot deposits from trans-boundary pollution sources are threatening water inflows into the Indus River system. Change in weather patterns is also affecting the agriculture productivity. In fact the economic activity which is set to pick up as a result of the completion of CPEC and generation of power from coal will definitely put up more challenges for the country on the environment front and to cope with this, the federal and provincial governments in their respective domains have to make advance planning and execute the projects having the potential to reduce the threat posed by environmental degradation. Though the federal and provincial governments every season launch tree plantation campaigns but there is need to further scale up them besides checking the ongoing deforestation especially that is taking place at our picturesque areas. Then we desperately need steps for water conservation, especially use of high-efficiency irrigation systems, energy efficiency and conservation and increased use of power generation through renewable energy. The establishment of a reliable natural disaster early warning system, creating awareness on climate change and developing capacity of communities to deal with extreme climate events are equally critical. Our industries and private sector have also to contribute and supplement government’s efforts to check this challenge that has emerged as a major threat to the country just like terrorism. In fact we have to take Zarb-e-Azb like actions – for which assistance of countries like China can be sought – to deal the challenge head on. The media which give too much time to political issues also need to fulfil its responsibility towards fostering awareness amongst the communities. Rather it should become such a platform for the environmental experts and the government officials that discuss strategies that could be used to help the people from the hazards of disasters. Then also comes the role of the developed nations which need to fulfil their commitments – the ones they made at the Paris Agreement to cut the global warming below two degree Celsius and most ideally to 1.5 degree Celsius. Without their adherence to the commitments and assistance to the developing nations, it will be impossible to mitigate the effects of climate change or make the communities resilient to the disasters. Being the greatest polluters, heavy responsibility also rests on them to do the needful that saves our planet.

Reporter. Tackle climate change head-on. Pakistan Observer, November 13, 2017.

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