Pakistan & the climate change challenge Part I Tuesday, December 30, 2008 Ali Tauqeer Sheikh Climate change is the

serious most challenge of our times. The Nobel Peace Prize winning report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has highlighted the fact that the worsening trends are expected to accelerate to a point of no return. There is growing recognition that the developed and developing economies should aim at becoming carbon-free. This ambitious direction, even if it does not become a specific target at this point, is expected to be vigorously pursued by the new administration in Washington, and by Pakistan’s bilateral and multilateral development partners. As pointed out in the seminal report by Sir Nicholas Stern, which was commissioned by the UK government, the cost of inaction will be great. The cost of the climate change for Pakistan will be still higher because it will adversely affect the natural water storage that the glaciers release for our crops, changing patterns and temperament of the monsoon. This will directly add to our water-, food- and energy insecurity. Particularly hit will be our population in more fragile ecosystems (such as the mountain regions and rain-fed agricultural areas), the urban poor, and communities living downriver on the Indus and coastal areas. Several nations, including India and China, have developed national plans of action on climate change. Their plans have identified areas where gaps in capacities exist, investments need to be made, and immediate actions need to be taken. Pakistan needs such a plan too. The national plan of action on climate change will need to address some of the most pressing issues that will confront Pakistan and outline areas of priority for investments and actions. The national action plan needs to serve as the basis for our revised energy, water, agriculture and forestry policies. It also needs to be at the heart of our poverty-alleviation strategies and our Millennium Development Goals. In fact, it needs to provide a framework for the 2011-2015 five-year plan. Five key areas of priority for investment and action are outlined here. Water security: The receding glaciers will increase water flows in the Indus basin, followed by permanent reductions. Sustained water availability for agriculture will help reduce our food insecurity. In addition to a web of mini-dams and check dams, a chain of large dams are needed in order to protect the downstream populations and their livelihoods form flash floods, the human suffering this entails, and the damage they can inflict on our sparse infrastructure. Water thus stored will be necessary for our year-round needs for agricultural and drinking water. Free discharge of industrial and civic waste will need to be curtailed as a priority so that freshwater streams give potable water both for human and agricultural use. The poor standards and inequitable provision of safe drinking water to both urban and rural communities has played havoc with national health and hygiene. Efficient watermanagement, including water pricing based on the principles of cost recovery, will play a critical role in providing water security for the next half century when the population will increase and the per-capita water availability will diminish to alarming levels. Food Security: Food security however will need R&D investments on heat-resistant verities of wheat that is the staple for most people; rice, a net foreign exchange earner; and cotton, the backbone of our textile sector. A change of one degree in temperature will directly affect the life and livelihood of all districts producing any of these three main crops. Planning is also needed to phase out such non-competitive, non-strategic water-intensive crops as sugarcane and some early varieties of rice cultivated when water shortage is acute due to limited water availability. A priority area of investment for food security would require substantial increase in our presently inadequate storage capacity for grain and other agricultural produce. Modern storage capacities would have made us less vulnerable to spikes in international commodity prices, a lesson we need to draw from recent experience of exporting wheat at lower prices and then importing at substantially higher prices ostensibly because the country did not have the storage capacity to handle a

bumper crop. It is estimated that some 30 to 40 percent of perishable produce, mainly fruit and vegetable, gets wasted between farm and market for various reasons including poor processing and storage capacities. The administrative measures to curtail smuggling of grain to the neighbouring countries have not worked. Pakistan will need to undertake a proactive regional trade policy to harmonise regional (and inter-provincial) prices. Absence of clear policies and of absence of serious research on biofuels, biosafety, and biotechnology only accentuates the food insecurity. Global warming affecting climate change in Pakistan’

Sunday, February 08, 2009 Karachi Extreme weather is bound to prevail in Pakistan during 2009 due to global warming, while there are possibilities of drought in many parts of the country, University of Karachi (KU) Institute of Environmental Studies chief Dr Moazzam Ali Khan, told PPI. “It is difficult to say whether the recent cold wave in the country is occurring due to global warming because these are relapses which occur at the end of every winter season which bring back chilling weather,” said Khan. However, the possibility of climatological pattern change could not be ruled out, which might have some connection with sudden weather change, said Khan. ‘’We could expect extreme weather condition throughout this year.” He said that abnormal conditions have been occurring in the country, as two years ago, temperature dropped to -2 degree centigrade in Lahore. Similarly there was no monsoon in 2008 in Karachi but heavy rains lashed the city in 2006, he added. The expectation of extreme heat is present, as a heat zone has developed from Balochistan to Punjab invariably during the summers, he said. ‘’We could not find the reason behind the developing of this heat zone as there is very little research available on it.” He added that there are possibilities that drought will occur in many parts of the country. Similar views were shared by an expert at the Meteorological Department, as a cold wave gripped Karachi once again on Friday, triggering chilly weather for the metropolis. The cold wave started blowing in the city due to heavy snowfall that occurred during the past rainy weather over the mountains in Balochistan, Northern Areas, Kashmir and Murree, said Chief Meteorologist Mohmmad Riaz. He dispelled the impression that the recent cold wave was due to global climate change. The weather pattern has changed and extreme weather would persist off and on, he added. Riaz said that Karachi is under the grip of cold wave, especially due to the wind blowing from the west side. He added that cold weather would continue for the next 24 to 36 hours. He said that there are chances that the temperature would drop again by the end of this month. He added that further drop in temperature depends on the snowfall in the western and northern parts of the country. The effect of global warming would prevail throughout the year as there are predictions that extreme weather, both cold and hot, would prevail in respective seasons, he said. He said that temperature would rise up to 46 to 48 degree centigrade during the summers, as it naturally rises especially in interior Sindh. He said that the chances of drought could not be overruled due to extreme weather in certain areas of the country.

Dawn

January 14, 2009

Wednesday

Muharram 16, 1430

Climate change effects to hit Pakistan hard: IPCC chief

By Jamal Shahid ISLAMABAD, Jan 13: Pakistan is among the countries which will be hit hardest by effects of climate change even though it contributes only a fraction to global warming. This and other worrying findings were revealed at the ‘Regional conference on climate change: challenges and opportunities for South Asia’ here on Tuesday. Addressing the conference, Dr Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said Pakistan was witnessing severe pressures on natural resources and environment. He said: “Climatic changes are likely to exacerbate this trend. Water supply, already a serious concern in many parts of the country, will decline dramatically, affecting food production. Export industries such as fisheries will also be affected, while coastal areas risk being inundated, flooding the homes of millions of people living in low-lying areas.” The two-day conference has brought together experts from the South Asia region to share knowledge and explore measures to combat the threat posed by the climate change. The conference has been organised by the Ministry of Environment and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Pakistan, and supported by the UK Department for International Development and the Norwegian Embassy. Droughts in 1999 and 2000 are one example that caused sharp declines in water tables and dried up wetlands, severely degrading ecosystems. Although Pakistan contributes least to global warming—one 35th of the world’s average of carbon dioxide emissions—temperatures in the country’s coastal areas have risen since the early 1900s from 0.6 to 1 degree centigrade. Precipitation has decreased 10 to 15 per cent in the coastal belt and hyper arid plains over

the last 40 years while there is an increase in summer and winter rains in northern Pakistan. Although Pakistan produces minimal chlorofluorocarbons and a little sulphur dioxide emissions, thus making a negligible contribution to ozone depletion and acid rain, it will suffer disproportionately from climate change and other global environmental problems. “The fact that global warming was unequivocal and there is no scope for scientific questioning, Pakistan faces potential environmental catastrophe,” said Dr Pachauri, who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (on behalf of the IPCC) along with former US vice-president Al Gore. Describing the effects of climate change in many parts of the world, Dr Pachauri, discussed the impact such changes were likely to have on a country like Pakistan and on the lives of its people. He said that health of millions would also be affected with diarrhoeal diseases associated with floods and drought becoming more prevalent. Intensifying rural poverty is likely to increase internal migration as well as migration to other countries. Given the enormity of the impact, adaptation and mitigation measures are critically important. “Although most societies have a long history of adapting to the impacts of weather and climate, climate change as we are experiencing it today poses new risks that will require new investments in adaptive responses,” Dr Pachauri warned. Alarmed by a recent report that described Pakistan as the 12th most vulnerable country, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who attended the Tuesday’s session of the conference as chief guest, appeared disturbed by the fact that environmental degradation would cost five per cent of the GDP every year. “Climate change is an economic and developmental problem as well as environmental. The government will make concerted efforts to achieve desired outcome to mitigate climate change,” the prime minister said.

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