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Climate concerns trigger search for solutions
While 192 signatories to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathered for the next round of climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany this month, the progress and commitment to resolving the issue of climate change so far remains unimpressive and questionable, according to a Greenpeace study. Fakhra Hassan analyzes Pakistan’s progress in the mitigation of unfavourable changes.
he effects of climate change, such as the gradual disappearance of glaciers in the north and drought in the south, are taking root in Pakistan. Climate change is one of the most critical global challenges for Pakistan, according to the World Wide for Fund for Nature (WWF) (see box for definitions).
Arshad Khan tells NGO World. “Interrupted flow of rainwater could adversely affect cash crops. In the next 50 years agricultural productivity in Pakistan would decline by 10-20 per cent. You need more reservoirs for water storage.” As a developing country, Pakistan is not alone in its vulnerability to climate change, Khan added. “Due to their location in temperate regions, developing countries are more prone to negative impacts due to increased temperatures in comparison to the cooler north where warm temperatures are favourable for countries falling in that region.” Water requirements for thermal power An estimated 0.4 million litres of water per MW installed is required for coalfired power plant. A 225 MW plant would require 8.8 mln litres of water per day approximately 90 per cent of the water is lost through evaporation each day. Source: Sindh Coal Authority
Global warming is a killer!
Experts say Pakistan’s unique location and expansive geography make it particularly vulnerable to the varied threat of global warming. Due to the country’s size and the diversity of its landscape, Pakistanis will not experience global warming uniformly. Some regions, such as Balochistan, may experi-
ence an increased prevalence of drought, while others, such as Sindh, may experience heavy rains and flooding. Experts are already predicting severe water shortages for agrarian communities in the upper Indus river basin. By encouraging disease and creating extensive water shortages, extreme heat will only exacerbate the impact global warming has on the public. The threat, experts warn, has already arrived. “There have been some very obvious incidences in recent years showing that frequencies of cyclones have increased significantly,” WWF coordinator for programmes Amna Shahab tells NGO World. As global warming approaches, Pakistan is in dire need
Mitigation or adaptation
By signing the Kyoto Protocol in January 2005, Pakistan was obliged to establish a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) cell, a public organization that approves projects for the credit emissions reduction initiative. The cell is involved in raising awareness activities for CDM, enhancement of capacity in CDM
Climate change is speculated to trigger extreme weather events in the south of environmental experts who are able to implement existing policies, such as the Environmental Protection Act of 1997 and the national water policy submitted to the federal cabinet for approval in 2004. These policies will improve environmental conditions and help the public meet critical challenges like the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). are prime examples that natural disasters almost always affect vulnerable populations most severely. Climate change in Pakistan is no exception. With 67 per cent of Pakistanis living in rural areas that are dependent upon natural resources, poor Pakistanis would be most severely affected by a dramatic shift in weather, the WWF warns. In fact, the agrarian economy as a whole is particularly vulnerable, says Amna Shahab of WWF. “Most of the rain would come in ‘blocks’ in the agrarian regions,” Global Change Impact Study Centre (GCISC) executive director Dr
project development, and reviewing of CDM projects of the industry’s stakeholders. While there are a lot of projects in the pipeline, the process of getting approval for a CDM project is long and complicated that could take two to three years from developing a project idea to gaining approval from the CDM Executive Board. “There are a 1000 CDM projects being implemented worldwide but only one project so far in Pakistan has received approval of the CDM Executive Board,” says Shahab. To date, according to WWF, the government has spent PKR 38.94 mln ($573,000) for the promotion of CDM in Pakistan. The question remains, however: are investments in environment protection appropriate at a time when the country is energystarved? Khan, of GCISC, declines to say. He believes that Pakistan, as a member of the Kyoto Protocol, is committed to reducing climate change. But considering that the country is simultaneously engaged in an uphill struggle to meet its power shortages, Khan says energy security should be an immediate priority for the government as well as the private sector. “We have global responsibilities and then we have a national responsibility,” he says. “We can only meet global responsibilities once we meet our national demands.” Rushing to meet its power shortages, Pakistan is creating
How could forests alleviate climate change?
As globally important storehouses of carbon, forests play a critical role in influencing the Earth's climate and help retard global warming by storing and sequestering carbon. Carbon sequestration is the process through which agricultural and forestry practices remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Pakistan’s annual rate of deforestation from 2000-2005 was 2.1 per cent, which is the thermo power plants fuelled by such heavy pollutants as furnace oil and sulphur-laden domestic coal (see table for details). “We have three main sources of energy, i.e., coal, gas and oil which are carbon-laden. Foreign investors are reluctant to help you develop the freshly found coal reserves in Thar since the government could not even provide them access to water for the extraction of coal,” Khan argues. Shahab, of WWF, could not agree more. She says that the climate change problem facing Pakistan is adapting its resources and second highest in Asia after Afghanistan, according to the Food & Agriculture Organization. In a Pakistan Forest Institute’s 2004 report titled “National Forest and Range Resource Assessment Study (NFRRAS)”, total forest cover of Pakistan has decreased to 3.317 mln hectares. Rangelands cover approximately 23.546 mln hectares with total vegetation cover of 26.863 mln hectares. Source: WWF, 2008 development programmes to alleviate climate change. “In spite of its large population Pakistan accounts for only 0.43 per cent of the total global carbon dioxide emissions,” she says. But she warns that low emissions do not necessarily signal relief in the years to come. Shahab suggests the corporate sector should be encouraged to become climate neutral so that they contribute to environmental conservation. “The government and the private sector should adapt current policies taking into account the impacts of climate change.” N
Ongoing thermal power plant deals
Project Engro Power Orient Power Sapphire Power Saif Power Project Atlas Power Halmore Bhikki Fauji Mari Power Nishat Chunian Power AttockGen Power New Bong Capacity (MW) 227 225 225 225 225 225 202 200 165 84 Location Near Daharki, Sindh Balloki, Punjab Muridke, Punjab Sahiwal, Punjab Sheikhupura, Punjab Bhikki, Punjab Daharki, Sindh Lahore, Punjab Rawalpindi Azad Jammu Kashmir Agreement signed on 29 Oct – 07 10 Nov – 06 07 Mar – 07 13 Jul – 07 18 Sep – 07 23 Oct – 07 30 Aug – 07 15 Sep – 07 24 Aug – 07 31 Aug – 07 Financial close Apr – 08 Dec – 06 Jun – 07 Sep – 07 Nov – 07 Apr – 08 Sep – 07 Jan – 08 Sep – 07 –
Definitions of climate change
According to the inter-governmental panel on climate change (IPCC), climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that could be identified with statistical tests on its long-term effects and, the mean and/or the variability of its properties. It refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. This usage differs from that in the UNFCCC, where climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. Source: IPCC, 2007
Melting glaciers – Only source of drinking water and irrigation in the south
Glacier Himalayas Luggye Imja Height /Area (above sea level) 5,600 – 6,000 metres 1,317 sq.km 5,010 metres Country India, Pakistan Bhutan Nepal Meltdown rate 50-60 metres per year 160 metres per decade 74 metres (2001-2006)
The devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina in the US on 27 August 2005 and the 8 October 2005 earthquake in northern Pakistan
Source: Private Power & Infrastructure Board (PPIB), Islamabad
32 | NGO World | June 2008
June 2008 | NGO World | 33
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