Pakistan’s Climate Crisis

Pakistan’s climate crisis has not been limited to severe heatwaves and flooding, but also a collapse of flora and fauna.

On 27th May 2024, Mohenjo Daro, one of the oldest and largest sites of Indus Valley civilization, experienced a record-breaking temperature of 52.2C, according to a senior officer of the Metrological Department of Pakistan. Not only Mohenjo Daro but also more than 22 cities of Punjab and Sindh have experienced severe forms of heatwaves across the country, which affect everybody from humans to animals.

Pakistan is in the midst of a climate crisis. As per the Global Climate Index, Pakistan has ranked the most fifth vulnerable country in terms of climate change and global warming, despite releasing less than 1pc of Carbon dioxide (CO2). Many international eminent and renowned climate scientists view that Pakistan’s geographical location makes it more vulnerable in terms of climate change. It is now a proven fact that Human activities are responsible for climate crisis and global warming. According to the International Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment report (2023) concluded that 95pc of climate change and global warming are directly outcomes of human activities, such as transportation, industries, deforestation, population expansion, and economic activities. This debunks any kind of propaganda and myth that climate change and global warming are a hoax. Let’s go back to Pakistan again. This country is not strange to climate change and global warming. Pakistan experienced a massive super flood in the year 2022, resulting in the death of 1700 people along with the 33 million population of the country displaced and directly affected by these floods. In addition to that, economic loss was calculated at around $20-30 billion, along with loss of critical infrastructure like schools, hospitals, roads bridges, etc.

However, Pakistan’s climate crisis has not been limited to severe heatwaves and flooding, but also a collapse of flora and fauna. In environmental science, flora and fauna refer to plant life and animal life respectively. Many reports suggested that Pakistan has lost 60-65pc ecological species due to the effects of climate change that badly affected their natural environment. Take the example of Blind Dolphins that once flourished in the river of the mighty Indus. However, as per reports by WWF, owing to habitat fragmentation and loss, 80pc of blind dolphins on the Indus are being disappeared. This has deepened the crisis of loss of biodiversity in Pakistan.

In addition to that, owing to climate change, Pakistan has experienced rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets in the northern area of the country. According to a recent finding of Al-Jazeera, Pakistan’s glaciers and ice sheets are at high risk of rapid melting due to severe heatwaves, causing the loss of 60-70pc of glaciers shortly. This would result in frequent occurrences of natural disasters like glacier flooding and put at least 2 million compatriots of this country at high risk. Meanwhile, such a change in glaciers can also change the course of rivers in Pakistan. In this context, as per the latest assessment by the Indus Water River Authority (IWRA), Pakistan’s rivers have experienced a rapid decline in their water volumes and size because of a twin crisis- the first one is of course climate change and the second one is illegal construction of dams by India on western rivers of Pakistan that are transgressed of Indus Water Treaty(1960).

Now, let’s explore what Pakistan’s governments and individuals can do to tackle the alarming situation of the climate crisis. Regarding the government, first of all, the government should move away from non-renewable energy sources and shift towards renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and biogas energy. The government has already pledged to produce 70pc of energy from renewable energy by 2035, as per the official document of the Climate Change Policy of Pakistan (2022). It also makes another big promise of transition towards electrical vehicles up to 30pc by 2035, lessening greenhouse emissions of C02 in the transportation sector. The government of Pakistan should also come up with green technologies in the field of agriculture to reduce the emission of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals. A step towards sustainable agriculture in Pakistan. The government should also revamp the infrastructure of cities and make them sustainable cities by doing away with the phenomenon of the Urban Island heat effect. Big cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Faisalabad need special attention for a sustainable environment. In these efforts, the government should also protect the flora and fauna of Pakistan by protecting their natural habitats and environment.

Pakistan should not shy away from making regional efforts to address the issue of climate change and global warming. Various reports concluded that South Asia has become a hotspot of climate change; therefore, countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh must sit together for the sake of the 2 billion population and environment. In this regard, India should shun the policy of pretty politics at the regional level and let the regional forum -SAARC- be revigorated and revamped for making climate policies at the level of South Asia. Otherwise, blame games upon one another don’t make any tangible and positive results regarding the issue of climate change.

Last but not least, the issue of climate change and global warming can’t be left alone on the shoulders of the government. But individuals can also make sufficient efforts to tackle the climate crisis. For example, individuals can indulge in plantation and forestation drives to make the environment greener and cleaner. Individuals can also perform the duties of consuming less meat, electricity, and personal vehicles for the generation of less waste; usage of sustainable public transportation can be a valuable effort. Lastly, the example of Greta Thunberg and Bill Gates remind us of the importance of climate awareness and campaigns. Therefore, climate awareness campaigns must be initiated from the ground level to the highest level to keep alive the issue of the climate crisis a wise man says that the biggest challenge and threat to humanity in the 21st century is the climate crisis and humanity must address it before it ceases to exist.w

Sher Ali Bukhari
The writer is a UET alumni with keen interest in Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Sher Ali Bukhari
The writer is a UET alumni with keen interest in Pakistan’s foreign policy.

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