According to the United Nations World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Asia suffered its hottest day on record in 2020. The implications of this are rather frightening; extreme weather and global warming has escalated to the point of no recovery. Thousands of people have lost their lives either in environmental disasters or through their trickle-down effects.

Billions of dollars have also been lost in trying to recover and prevent the worsening situation. With the COP26 summit approaching in a few days, an urgent plan of action must be devised to eliminate the pressure from the Asian continent and employ sustainable long-term solutions.

The UN’s Climate in Asia report indicated that each country had been sufficiently affected. Food and water insecurity is on the rise, health risks have increased, environmental degradation is escalating as floods, droughts, and storms come and go unexpectedly.

Pakistan particularly, must explore all the avenues through which the effects of climate change can be mitigated. First and foremost, we must ensure that we switch to more sustainable and renewable sources of energy. We are fortunate enough to receive sunlight for most of the year and for over 12 hours of the day, the perfect environment to support solar energy systems.

We must also instil a sense of responsibility on a local level as well as each individual should be educated on the smallest ways in which they can limit their carbon footprint and improve the city and village environments.

Already, floods, excessive heat spells and humidity limits human productivity and forces the country to come to a standstill. This is especially a problem for Pakistan which has experienced immense economic losses due to activity in urban centres coming to a halt in light of standing water or floods. Rapid urbanisation has in turn led to hotter cities, opening up risks of ailments such as heat strokes.

Millions of rupees are lost through this and yet, viable preventative solutions are not employed. Afforestation programmes, creation of reservoirs and clean drainage systems are essential for preventing floods. They will also ensure that in times of drought, this excessive water can be redirected towards fulfilling the country’s needs. We must also look to change our attitude towards building concrete jungles. There must be a focus on developing means to tackle climate change such as a healthy green-grey balance and cutting down on unnecessary emissions.