Pakistan making hectic efforts to adapt to climate change: minister

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change, Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan, said that the global warming, which continues to unleashed devastating impacts in different parts of the world including Pakistan, has emerged to be the biggest challenge of the present century.

“The very existence of the mankind has been at stake because of the climate change, for it has increased frequency in flash floods, forest fires, erratic and torrential rains and led to sea-level rise, melting of glaciers at a higher pace, erratic and irregular and depleting river flows and overall environmental degradation,” he highlighted.

He was addressing as a keynote speaker at the inaugural session of the three-day high-level policy workshop on “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs) – an initiative meant for putting the world on the carbon-free pathway that leads to sustainable development – here at a local hotel on Tuesday.

The event was attended by top key government officials from environment, water, energy, forest, health ministries and departments and international and local non-governmental organisations. Climate Change and Environmental scientist, researchers, academicians, policymakers and planners also attended the event.

The minister said that though every country has become vulnerable to the delirious effects of the climate change, unfortunately the developing countries like Pakistan and the least developed like Nepal are the ones likely to be hit the hardest by the unpredictable climatic conditions.

“No wonder, the world in general and developing countries in particular have started paying the price in terms of more frequent and more intensified climate change-induced calamities, resulting in food, water and energy insecurities the world over,” he remarked

Talking about the workshop topic of the workshop, the minister said that today’s event on the (INDCs would contribute towards firming up Pakistan’s contributions towards climate change and provide a roadmap on how the country can further enhance its contributions if additional funding is made available under international climate finance.

Mushahid Ullah Khan warned that failing to adapt to rapidly changing weather patterns for countries like Pakistan and mitigating the carbon missions will badly hurt the countries’ efforts meant for achieving sustainable development goals including poverty eradication, increased and improved access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation, access to adequate health facilities, gender equality, education, energy, economic growth, sustainable consumption and production of natural resources, biodiversity and marine conservation.

Pakistan is reportedly ranked among the ten most vulnerable countries in the World by the GermanWatch Index 2014, a German-based prestigious think-tank on Climate Change.

“Nine out of ten the worst climate change-induced calamities hit Pakistan during the last decade, which seriously damaged country’s very initiatives for socio-economic development and caused a huge loss of the life and properties worth billions of rupees,” the minister recalled and warned that such natural calamities would show increased frequency in the country.

The one single event of devastating 2010 flooding eroded away 6 percent of our GDP, he stressed

As per the initial assessment of Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review Mission of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the climate change-related activities are costing Pakistan 5 to 7 percent of its annual federal budget every year, he underlined.

Mushahid Ullah Khan also highlighted that equally problematic is the fact that the current prescriptions for addressing climate change will have the impact of raising the prices of food, water and conventional energy resources.

Given the grave scenario regarding climate change impacts, Pakistan, hand-in-hand with other countries of the world, is striving hard to devise a mechanism to keep the increase in our earth’s temperature below 2 degree centigrade as a part of the global climate change agreement to be reached later this year in Paris among the 198 countries that will be organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), he said.

Pertinent to point out that the 2 degree temperature raise is a threshold whereby any increase in earth’s temperature more than this would put us on the path of irreversible consequences.

The federal minister said that the world is heading to the UNFCCC’s 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris this year to firm up an agreement, whereby countries would be made responsible for carbon cuts on the basis of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities with Respective Capabilities (CBDRRC).

Federal Secretary of the Climate Change Ministry, Arif Ahmed Khan, said that “We are at the crossroads and climate change not only threatens sustained economic growth and development but intensifies existing political, social, economic and security challenges.”

Nationally, a comprehensive policy and strategy has been hammered out to cope with devastating of the impacts of the climate change, the secretary said.

“Given the country’s extreme vulnerability to climate change, adaptation and climate resilient development remains our essential priority. We have taken steps both at national and sub-national levels towards this end. We have also adopted a comprehensive approach on disaster risk reduction and management,” he highlighted.

He said that under the UNFCCC, the global Paris agreement to be reached later this year would come into effect in 2020, empowering all countries to act to prevent average global temperatures rising above 2 degrees Celsius.

Arif Ahmed Khan said that INDCs have been chosen as the vehicle for national contributions to the international Paris agreement. The INDCs reflect a country’s “Contribution” to the global effect to reduce GHG emissions in the post-2020 period. According to its need, a country can chose any mix from four specific types-quantified absolute target, intensity target, and deviation from Business-As-Usual, and set of policies & measures.

Among others, who spoke at the event, included Director-General of the Ministry of Climate Change (Environment & Climate Change), Former Director-General Pakistan Meteorological Department Dr Qamar uz Zaman, Chief Executive Lead-Pakistan Tauqeer Ali Sheikh and WWF-Pakistan’s senior Director Dr Ghulam Akbar.

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