Associated Press of Pakistan
Pakistan is facing existence of five major risks related to climate change including rise in sea level, glacial retreats, floods, higher average temperature and higher frequency of droughts.
In addition, being a predominantly agricultural economy, climate change is estimated to decrease crop yields in Pakistan not only as a result of flooding, but also as a result of changing temperatures, which in turn will affect livelihoods and food production.
Deterioration of climate is irreversibly harming Pakistan, as the glacier melt in the Himalayas is projected to increase flooding and affect water resources within the next two to three decades.
This will be followed by decreased river flows over time as glaciers recede. The glacial melt will affect fresh water flows with dramatic adverse effects on biodiversity and livelihood with possible long-term implications on regional food security.
Scientific studies showed that average global temperature has risen by about 1 degree Centigrade during the past century. This increase was mostly due to fossil fuel burning and deforestation. Global temperatures are projected to increase further between 1.4 degree Centigrade and 5.8 degree Centigrade by 2100 and to continue to rise long after.
“Climate change is a global issue which is of concern for the entire international community,” an official of Ministry of Science and Technology told APP.
The global warming is an unequivocal fact which is causing widespread issues such as faster glacier melting, sea level rise, shortage of fresh water, increased droughts and floods, more frequent and intense forest fires, more intense storms, more extreme heat episodes, agricultural disruption, the spread of infectious diseases and biodiversity loss, he said.
Official said these vulnerabilities due to changing climate are already severe in many countries and will increase day by day.
“A collective responsibility to combat this global warming and climate change is necessary and in line with sustainable development for our better future.”
He said although it is well recognized that the developing countries are the least responsible for climate change contributing only 10 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions, they are the ones that are the most vulnerable to the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change mainly due to their geographical location and socio-economic fragility.
It has the least contribution to global warming and the contribution to total greenhouse gas emissions is as low as 0.43 percent which is 135th of the world average of carbon dioxide emissions.
“Yet, it is faced with severe climate changes and according to Germanwatch report 2011, Pakistan has been ranked 3rd most vulnerable country to climate change.”
Official said the coastal areas of Pakistan including the Indus Delta are most vulnerable to climate change with rising sea surface temperature and atmospheric water vapors causing an increase in cyclone intensity and rainfall.
The climate change effect, on one hand may reduce the flow of freshwater into the delta and on the other, it will accelerate the already occurring sea intrusion in the deltaic area.
Pakistan has to take a lot of efforts and financial compromises to deal with the impact of climate change.
“It has become extremely important for the government to invest in sustainable agriculture and small scale farmers, promoting the use of drought resistant varieties, alternate farming practices and reduced cultivation of water intensive crops in the circumstances of water scarcity; and building dams and reservoirs for water storage and mitigating the chances of devastating floods we have experience during recent years.”